Over the past two weeks, territory and the rights to it, have continued to be violently contested in the Middle-East and Eastern Europe. The daily asymmetric exchange of missiles between the military arm of Hamas and the Israeli army, continues to result in atrocities in the blockaded Palestinian city of Gaza. Justified by Israel for the right to defend its nation from attack; and justified by Hamas for the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, the fighting continues. The crisis in Ukraine continues to lead to the loss of civilian and military life on the ground and also tragically in the air with the MH17 plane attack above Eastern Ukraine. Justified by Russia as an age old civil war of identity and culture; and justified by Ukraine for defending its sovereignty from Russian backed rebels, the fighting continues. Palestine/Israel and Ukraine/Russia are just two of the most recent bloody battles over territory – a continuation of contested territories.
Territory, in a geographical sense, covers land, sea and air. The legal rights to these territories are complex and connected to the countries in which they lie in or above, as well as often being at the root of many violent conflicts past and present. However there are exceptions. The 1967 United Nations (UN) ‘Outer Space Treaty’ designated outer space as the commons of all mankind, free of any ownership. Also, International Air Law states that every country has sovereignty to its airspace above its land and sea territory on earth, so over bodies of water (High Seas) with no such state ownership the airspace is truly International. Even though some countries assume stewardship of ‘High-Seas’ airspace adjacent to their own (i.e. The US with the Pacific Ocean) this space is often treated as a common open to all. Nonetheless the UN states that a nation’s territory (land, sea and air) stretches upto 12 nautical miles (22.2km) off its coast; and there is no International agreement on how far a country’s airspace extends vertically towards outer-space. It was in this indeterminate space between layers of atmosphere and legal territorial frameworks that the absurd-logic project ‘No-Man’s-Land’ was conceived and developed.
‘No-Man’s-Land’ was not proposed as a realistic and feasible project, in the traditional sense, but more as an unfeasibly real project taken to its extreme logical conclusion – it’s a blend of the utopian and dystopian world we occupy and does not set out to be a solution, rather a question over territory.
A sublime shared meeting place that shifts on currents of air and overcomes the inevitable ties that accompany contested territories on the ground.
‘No-Man’s-Land’ functions at high altitude and directly above the political and economical fault lines that lie below. It stakes a claim of claiming no land. Instead two separate, lightweight platforms on rails are lifted into the sky by two identical; helium filled aluminised nylon tower balloons, which bring the two platforms together in mid-air to provide a floating meeting place. The service is for interested parties on either side of a contested settlement to forge relationships and build bridges that may not be feasible in person on the ground.”
Originally produced for the ‘The Line of Site’ ideas competition 2009