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Shock Plans For Mental Hospital

May 20, 2010

Katharine Harmon’s excellent book You Are Here features many different kinds of map, some very old, others brand new. The thing they all have in common is the subjectivity and unconventional approach of the designers. Some function as political or religious propaganda, others as explorations of social or scientific theories. One that caught my eye was this cover of the American Phrenological Journal. Phrenology is a pseudoscience developed in Europe in 18th century Germany that became very fashionable in Europe and America in the 19th Century. Believed at the time to hold the key to understanding the human brain, the technique involved mapping the areas of the brain responsible for different character traits. It was, of course, all bullshit. But hypothetically speaking, if Hackney was person, what would its mind look like? A borough of great contradiction, where crime, poverty, unemployment, and health issues are a problem for many, the influx of money and gentrification from projects such as the East London line and Olympic developments look set to improve the standard of living, yet also threaten to out-price many residents and jeopardise the ethnic and cultural diversity that defines the borough. Here is my brief and highly subjective representation of the Mind Of Hackney, presented in an appropriately childish style, somewhere along the lines of Chris Ware meets People Are Germs.

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