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[IED] Building Third Runways: Challenging Equality (‘=’)

Sunday 2 July 13:30 (GMT +0)

ThinginessInformation Experience DesignSchool of CommunicationInformation Experience Design (MA)

Co-Creating an Imaginary Land Installation of building runways around the world’s airports.

Location: Kensington Campus
Use the Eventbrite link above to register

Runways around the world are typically designed to run parallel for efficiency, minimising flight path collisions and maximising runway capacity. The parallel arrangement of runways represents a symbol of modern efficiency, resembling an equals sign ('=') when looked at from an aerial perspective. The concept of equality, denoted by '=', is widely associated with our modern world, symbolising logic, reasoning, prediction, planning, and stability.

However, it is worth questioning the appropriateness of this tendency. Tempelhof airport in Berlin, originally constructed by the Nazis for propaganda purposes, exemplifies this concern. The airport reflected the Nazis' ideology of planning and logic, which seemingly justified illogical aspects such as nationalism and Aryan racial superiority. Nonetheless, the airport was never completed due to the Nazi regime's defeat in the war. Paradoxically, it was later used during the Berlin Airlift, one of the weakest moments in German history. The parallel runways at Tempelhof airport represent the notion of equality ('='). However, considering the context of Nazi Germany, it becomes evident that applying this symbol was incorrect.

What if we were to construct a third runway at Tempelhof airport, running diagonally above two existing parallel runways (‘=’), thus forming a not equal ('≠') sign? This hypothetical scenario raises questions about the association of equality with nationalism and racism. A similar example can be found in South Africa's Apartheid regime, which employed stability and logic to justify the fundamentally illogical system of "Races are equal but separated." Envisioning a non-parallel third runway at Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo Airport would highlight the dangers and fatal consequences of clinging to the notion of equality ('=').

The Hong Kong protests provide another perspective on equality. Communist ideology, rooted in the concept of equality ('='), raises questions about whether the actions of the Chinese Communist Party and its treatment of Hong Kong genuinely reflect this principle. Hong Kong's unique historical and cultural context, including the "One Country, Two Systems" concept, is frequently misunderstood as equating (‘=’) Hong Kong with China when in reality, they are fundamentally different. Within this context, what will be the significant meaning of the act of building a diagonal runway ('≠') at Hong Kong Airport?

The ideological equality and political correctness often associated with liberal elites in New York is yet another area of concern. These elites frequently emphasise equality in their speeches, but in practice, they prioritise safeguarding their elitist college degrees, jobs, and careers, perpetuating an exclusive inner network. In this sense, what will the Not Equal sign ('≠') in JFK imply?

Which city do you come from, live in, or are familiar with? What instances of blind equality ('=') do you encounter within your city? How can the concept of building an imaginary runway within an airport provoke conversations that challenge the notion of equality ('=') as artificial and potentially harmful, urging us to embrace and understand the nonequal ('≠') nature of the world?

Presenter & Guests: Jeanyoon Choi
Featured in Theme: Thinginess