Skateboarding and the Mis-Use Value of Infrastructure
Keywords:Infrastructure, skateboarding, social relations, surveillance, media
Infrastructure generates social relationships as bodies (human and non-human) encounter one another moving through urban and peri-urban space. Studies explore these relationships in-depth, however there is limited consideration of social relationships generated through deliberate mis-use of infrastructure, termed the alter-sociality of infrastructure in this article. This article focuses on the mis-use of infrastructure by skateboarders and the filmers and photographers who capture their unsanctioned performances. It makes three arguments. First, skateboarders are an adjacent public for infrastructure, invested in its constant production but not in its intended use. Second, skateboarding promotes an alter-sociality of infrastructure drawing our attention to desire, damage, surveillance, and wounding generated by mis-use. Third, unlike other appropriations of infrastructure for mis-use, skateboarding is captured as video and image, circulated globally through digital technology, freely accessible, and consumed and emulated by millions of skaters across the world. As a result, otherwise ordinary infrastructure has profound subcultural significance, widely shared histories, and draws skaters from other cities and other countries to arrangements of surfaces, objects and obstacles barely noticed by other urban dwellers.
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