tags: transportation mobile cartography
Hundekopf (Dog’s Head) is a colloquial term for Berlin’s S-Bahn ring, a train line which encircles the inner city. It is an integral component of the transportation network and gained symbolic significance when it was restored into a complete circle after the fall of the Berlin Wall. From its windows a fragmentary perspective of each district of the city is gained, with the TV-tower (Berlin’s most iconic landmark) always in sight as a central hub.
In re-imagining Hundekopf as a resistance organization, Knifeandfork uses the Ringbahn as a literal vehicle to move between time and place in what has been dubbed a ‘hub-narrative’ structured through SMS text-messaging and a new form of location-based content delivery.
The creation of the piece was itself a performance, as it required deconstructing Berlin’s public transportation information through the BVG website in order to track individual trains. This potentially volatile act was accomplished conspicuously using another shared resource, the numerous open Wi-Fi networks in Berlin cafes. Given current concerns about terrorism, the tracking system was the object of much attention.
System complete, flyers were distributed to travelers on S-bahn platforms and throughout the city during the week of Loving Berlin bearing an invitation to the resistance. To accept, participants go to any Ringbahn platform and send the name of that stop to the project phone number as an SMS. In response, they receive an instruction to board a particular train which they can then ride around the complete route.
After every stop on the Ringbahn, participants received a transmission from “Hundekopf” central command, defining an elusive manifesto referencing their actual immediate surroundings. “Hundekopf”, as it turns out, is not an organization at all, but resistance through attention to the mundane, eschewing any culture-jamming or generation of new signifiers in favor of direct experience. Resistance is continuous, you are chasing your tail.