After 1.097 hours watching Puerta del Sol:

A disperse diary on protest space and its temporal conflicts.

^ Online platform Open Urban Television (OUT):

I´ve been experimenting troubles to sleep and think lately. I believe it all started during a round table at Matadero Cultural Center in Madrid. The event was called Hypermad[1] and was organized by the students of the Masters in Architectonic Communication (Maca)[2] as a part of a discussion´s series about homeless population. We sat down and the moderator started the debate with, in any other circumstances, an ordinary question: In what public spaces of the city do you spend more time? If you were not a 24 hours addict to urban streaming webcams, this question might otherwise have been normal.

Let me explain myself: me and two other colleagues (an engineer and an architect) started a project called Open Urban Television (OUT)[3] that consists in setting out a series of streaming 24/7 webcams in the most important and iconic protest spaces of Madrid. This project takes the form of an online platform that could be accessed by any citizen at any time in order to watch what is going on with their public spaces.


Ok. Allow me to go back to the breakdown episode. At that moment, I went completely blank [4] as I just realized that the most important public space in my daily life was Puerta del Sol. A hyper-touristic square that I was –and still continue- watching steadily through a digital screen, like a voyeur hikikomori, although I had practically never stepped on it during my daily activities.

During the answers of the other speakers, I was trying to process this sort of epiphany when, suddenly, the moderator dropped the second question: So, how much time do you spend in them? This only made it worse. Quantity. I did not know as I usually have it continuously open in both my computer and smartphone to see what is going on every now and then or I could spend several hours watching a certain demonstration. Furthermore, I usually save the recorded film and play it on conferences, seminars or to run an algorithm that evaluates the ambient sound and crowd.

But the interrogation continued: What do you do during that time? Eating popcorn, talking to my girlfriend or preparing dinner. Are you comfortable doing that? Of course, I am wearing my pyjamas. What are the elements that make you more comfortable and which ones hinder you? I like the songs in animals´ defenders protests and, sometimes, internet connection is a problem. How could these elements be improved? ………………. Etcetera.

This daily encounter with, under other conditions, a normal interrogation produced a blockage on how we were understanding the relation between protests, technology, affect and public space[5]. The following article is, somehow, the result of that obvious epiphany linked to the research undertaken before but, mostly, after it: more than 2.678 hours of recorded video, 1.097 hours staring at the computer screen, 4 cycles monitoring the cameras uninterruptedly during 24 hours, 19.876 clicks on the 6 different cameras, 416 hours spent on finding locations and installing the cameras, a daily routine of connecting to the online platform at least 9 times during 365 days (1st January 2016 – 1st January 2017) at 9:00-12:00-14:00-17:00-18:00-19:00-20:00-21:00-23:00, 3.955 euros spent between the servers, website, domain, routers and cameras, 83 shutdowns of the streaming cams due to different reasons, 1.224.567.900 bytes of sound registered and more than 1200 daily users forming a total of 475.998 unique viewers.

The succeeding essay collects some of the videos captured by our streaming-activist platform Open Urban Television in Puerta del Sol as documents that triggered some reflections, lines of text or problematics, inspired by Perec´s “Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris” (Perec, 2014), about Affect Space and explore its relation to contemporary protest space-times because, you know, “I would say that there is good reason to study the dynamics of disobedience, the spark behind all knowledge” (Bachelard, 1990).



Where to look: Chthodology.

^ Some audiovisual fragments collected during 2016.

After spending 1.097 hours watching the same frame, the same limit and frontier; after running all kind of visual algorithms, the power of the visual realm starts to collapse and calls into question the words of Augustus: “I found Rome built of clay and I leave it to you in marble” (Dio, 1987). He wants us, his subordinates, to look at the space and evaluate his ruling over the urban aesthetic result[6]. The critique around the visual and its inability to understand the urban is nothing new: thinkers such as Barthes, Lefevre, Keenan, Bergson or Berger have already elaborated complex demonstration on the toxic consequences of looking at cities only from its liminal surface.

As theorist Eric Kluitenberg points out, most of the criticism around hybrid environments, as our case study, are associated to their visual aspect, that is, what can be seen through the eyes and understood as a visual product. One of the most striking examples is the architecture of Urbino´s “Città ideale” by Piero della Francesca where there exists a “visual articulation of daily life suggesting that everything, social and public, is completely controllable and constructible” (Kluitenberg, 2006).


^ Saturday night at Puerta del Sol, 23:56, 11/03/2016

The optic grasps the first layer but darker answers, the ones we are aiming for, appear as we move and increase the research depth. When showing our faces to the abysm, we are closer to the invisible as we are looking at the chthonic -from Greek χθόνιος khthonios [kʰtʰónios], “in, under, or beneath the earth”- environment. The underworld, the netherworld, the abyssal, the total depth, the chthonic recalls both abundance and tomb. We are looking for the profusion of information and facts that lie just below our eyes. If we had to pick up an allied god to follow us to this battle, we will choose Eris –/ˈɪərɪs, ˈɛrɪs/– as the representation of strife and discord, as in dissension we shall find what we are looking for.

We want to challenge the ocular disaffected view of the constructed habitat, using chthodology, and find the “more invisible processes which are rearranging the public space and imposing different utilization logics” (Kluitenberg, 2006). We are searching for the unseen, the shapeless, the indistinct, the formless things that happen within the city that could reveal the agency of architecture in our urban life, in order to develop a “geography of what happens” (Thrift, 2007) in contemporary protest spaces. After watching 1.907 hours the same space, one entity stands out and deepens lower than any other; it hollows around everything but instead of emptying them, it makes urban potentiality endurable and renderable. It is the “most influential navigation system” (Lekas, 2002): time, tempo, temporality.

What lies below our eyes: Dunyā

^ New Year’s Eve celebration in Puerta del Sol, 23:59, 31/12/2015

Time is not only the dissected measure of seconds, minutes or years but provides the syntaxes where contemporary architecture and urbanism are structured. Time is the twenty-first century life-blood, pulsing from the arteries of a city that it is itself a hybrid body constructed out of concrete matter and ghostly flows. We no longer operate in one single time zone, nor measure time in minutes. High Frequency Trading (HFT) algorithms predate pension funds using advantages of a few picoseconds that operate below the threshold of human perception across the world´s financial markets , becoming the symbol of this new temporal condition.

Space is outpaced by time as “dimensions are no longer whole, they are broken up. Space is fractured too. Nothing remains whole as space” (Armitage, 2000). In this critical moment, time finally revealed itself as the “mysterious entity” for the technological man (McLuhan, 1967), even if it had been there all history as the ephemeral world: the (in)famous Dunyā – comes from danaa, dal nun wau. Dunyā refers to the temporal world and its earthly issues, in contrast to the world of gods, eternity and hereafter, where the concerns of the people are “just temporary”. It is the period between born and death. In Islam, dunyā is a test; success and failure lead to paradise and hell respectively (Quran 57:20). In an eternal view of life, the defeat is getting attached to this temporal existence and its trappings

We propose just the opposite, to welcome Dunyā, to radically embrace temporality, avoid the major deities that inhabit the Olympus and try to understand the earthly world. We want to understand the urban dimension of our lives through time, as the anima of cities, flowing below the threshold of detectability while structuring the logics of affect, technology and protest.


Space still materrs: Genius loci

^ Memorial of the war victims in Syria versus the Christmas tree, 2016

Despite the importance of timing, space is an inevitable actor in any social interaction and practice, whereas it happens in the public space or it needs some servers in some far ocean. Not every spatial dynamic is apparent, superficial and could be discovered by vision as Janet Fitch wrote, in her novel Paint It Black, “he body changed over time, becoming a gallery of scars, a canvas of experience, a testament to life and one’s capacity to endure it”; temporality is the main actor but we still need a body that can acted upon.

The use of space as an attractor of memory and its capacity to become a memorial has always been important in the development of any society. As Maecenas advises Augustus: “Make this capital beautiful, spare no expense in doing so, and enhance its magnificence […] to implant respect for us in our allies and to strike terror into our enemies” (Dio, 1987). In our case study, Puerta del Sol, networks that were mainly digital such as Anonymous, #DemocraciRealYA or #nolesvotes joined with more “analogue” ones, on the ground, such as Juventud sin Futuro or ATTAC in order to produce the 15M, the “Indignados”, whose main definition factor as movement was to stay physically in the public space. “Movements born from the virtual space look for geographical spaces where to territorilize, the same way as movements from a local origin look for alliances and support in the cyberspace” (Díaz, 2014)

^ “Marcha por el Cambio” (March for Change) by political party Podemos, 13:03, 31/01/2016

The dismantling of the camp in Sol is also important to understand the power of space. The motto was “take the neighbourhoods” and the movement abandoned its nucleus approach. They went to the suburbs, the periphery, where urbanism executes its fully power potential. While Sol is the centre of Madrid, and geographically of Spain -the km 0-, it has not permanent inhabitants -less than 30-, so it is easy to become the representational hub of various identities and social classes due to its lack of it. However, when the movement went back to the assembly organization in the neighbourhoods, the social class played its strongest role: the function of urbanism to segregate people depending on their economic income or type of work. Therefore, the characteristic inter-class quality of the 15M almost disappeared when it was decentralized by leaving Sol that, somehow, worked as a core for mixture, entanglement and real exchange of opinions between diverse citizens.

Not every spatial dynamic is visible as there are hidden consequences of the spatial worldling. “Places, although seemingly permanent because of their physical structures like buildings, streets, and the like, are actually quite fluid because they are constantly being reiterated, reinforced or reinterpreted“ (Endres, 2011). Only a complex vision of both the spatial and the temporal domain can bring real knowledge to the urban environment or, as David Harvey points out, the necessity to think “spatio-temporal alternatives” (Harvey, 2001).




Affect [7]as conflict: desires and dissent in the city.

^ Parachutists landing in Puerta del Sol during the Spanish Army Day, 11:00, 28/05/2016

The landing on Puerta del Sol of a parachutist wrapped in the “rojigualda” flag only happens once a year: it is the national day, the celebration of being Spanish, where the army becomes visible by organizing a march-past with all the different divisions of the military. There is no one single representative of civil society but still it is claimed to render all Spanish population. “How does the national symbolic, with its flags and bromides, turn history into “symbolic event” in a way that protects the (affective) fantasy of the nation as a powerful anchor?” (Berlant, 2012)

Always particular and contextual, edifices and public spaces can be loaded with diverse kind of affects. Only when we understand the important role of time and process in the affective dynamics of cities (Abbott, 2001), we will be able to grasp a more complex explanation of what is the role of affect within protest spaces nowadays. The National Day is only one of several events that try to incorporate desire and passions in the public space, in an effort to be “deployed politically (mainly but not only by the rich and powerful) to political ends: what might have been painted as aesthetic is increasingly instrumental” (Thrift, 2004).

^ Soldiers marching in formation during the Spanish Army Day, 10:37, 28/05/2016

The military march used to take place alongside the biggest artery of Madrid, Paseo de la Castellana, but since a few years ago, its main location is Puerta del Sol. Our research showed that before the 15 M, less than 8% of demonstrations took or wanted to take place in the square and, today, it has reached more than 28% demonstrating the “utter ubiquity of affect as a vital element of cities, its shading of almost every urban activity with different hues” (Thrift, 2004). However, affect is not only a key element of cities, also, the urban environment plays a central role in the formation of affect. Both context –urban- and affect conform a feedback system where bodies and their surrounding interact continuously.

The system of affect happens as “an encounter between manifold beings, and the outcome of each encounter depends upon what forms of composition these beings are able to enter into” (Thrift, 2004) linked to their intensity, duration, mediation or rhythm. The affective dynamic is always in motion, shaping an always instantaneous and present relation that influences not only the perception of the city itself but also the political, economic or urbanistic decisions that are taken upon it.


Affect as motion: chronoaffect.

^ Demonstration in favour of the III Spanish Republic, 18:36, 14/04/2015

Advanced agencies clearly understand “emotion as motion both literally and figurally” (Latour, 2002), being an always mutant entity in which the use of time could shape it on one way or another. Sometimes, the speed and depth of change are graspable and in other cases, perhaps, we are “late for consciousness” (Damasio, 1999).

“The idea of positionality begins by subtracting movement from the picture. This catches the body in cultural freeze-frame […] When positioning of any kind comes a determining first, movement comes a problematic second” (Massumi, 2002). Stillness, staticness are the principles on how technicians, architects, politicians or urbanists look at cities and affects. Time is disregarded because the “understanding of the world as an ongoing process in continual transformation” (Massumi, 2015) has been avoided. Introducing the affective approach in the urban realm has enlarged the crack on the motionlessness view over architecture by transforming the edifice-as-object to an edifice-as-process which its main methodological innovation is the introduction of time in the equation.

If, as Lefebvre points out, real change can only be accomplished once the spaces of domination are transformed into recovered spaces for citizenship (Lefebvre, 1991), it is through the use of the temporal potential of affects how it is being performed.


You can feel it: control in the public space.

^ Police trying to evacuate the protesters of “Marchas por la Dignidad” (Dignity protest), 12:03, 22/03/2014

Big protests in recent years have been characterized by the construction of barriers, barricades, fences, etc. This use of architectonic elements was meant not to let police get inside the public space that, thanks to the action of protesters, was freed for some time. Here, it is important the relation with the Temporary Autonomous Zones of anarchist Hakim Bey that claims for “the creation of temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control” (Bey, 1985).

Few years back, there were some attempts by the regional government to design a specific space for protest outside the centre of the city. The argument for this action was to minimize the interruption of traffic and mobility. This was a perverse strategy not only because of its view on the city as an urban environment where public space´s only goal is to provide an infrastructure to go from home to work and viceversa[8], but also because “whether publicly or privately owned, spaces cannot be designed for protest, they are taken for protest” (Medina, 2016).

^ Baton charges during “Marchas por la Dignidad” (Dignity protest), 11:58, 22/03/2014

Sol has several features that explain why it is the most disputed territory in Madrid: it is the most diverse space of Madrid –everyone passes through it-, it has no clear inhabitants –few residents in the area-, it is the centre of all the country´s road system –km 0-and holds the most intense iconic charge –many historical events deployed there-. The social indetermination together with its affect potential explains why the different urban agents fight to control and colonize it.

Puerta del Sol is, what the critic Charles Jencks calls, a “heteropolis” which designates the radical plural city –and its spaces- where diverse ethnic groups, economic powers, confronting institutions and ways of living coexist at the same time but, without mixing with each other (Jencks, 1993). Police and money secure and prevent the undesirable outcomes of this relation: “fear and violence are such an intrinsic part of the quotidian life of cities that they are inscribed in the urban and architectonic planning” (Durán, 2008). This control strategies of fear and violence are only performed spatially in emergency cases, as there are more effective deterrence tactics in order to keep things “calm”.


You would not notice a thing: CCTVism.

^ Flag recognition algorithm used during a protest in Open Urban Television.

Authorities monitorize steadily Puerta del Sol in order to watch for sudden, unauthorized and unexpected fluctuations of the usual rhythm of the public space. As sociologist Lasén acknowledges “they cannot let every instant to inspire the next one” and tend to reduce the rhythm of Puerta del Sol because “rhythm is the conjunction of repetition and difference, of resumption and variation” (Lasén, 2000); divergence, contrast, deviation, variance and fluctuation should be avoided.

In the specific case of Madrid there are officially 32,200 authorisations for stablishing CCTV´s networks focussing and pointing to the public spaces of the city. Each of this files compromises an undefined number of cameras which in the case of Metro Madrid is 8,677 devices working 24/7. Once again, in the name of security for all citizens, specific agents are developing and controlling an infrastructure capable of having a total vision of the city and fostering that the “same technologies of freedom that make democracy possible are also the technologies of control that enable fascism” (Rheingold, 2006).

^ Computer access to the streaming cameras of Open Urban Television.

There are more than 200 CCTVs pointing 24/7 towards Puerta del Sol. They compose a matrix of 200 different versions of this public space, with their own frame, perspective and story. Only two of this cameras are for other purposes rather than surveillance. Users of Puerta del Sol are left with only two options: either acknowledge their existence and restrain the aberrant behaviours, that can carry economic fines, or use them to some advantage as, inevitable, “the street, the square and urban public spaces are no longer simply spaces for the embodied encounter with the “unknown other”; they have been transformed into media platforms themselves” (Kluitenberg, 2015)

Ultimately, CCTVs develop a controlling system more complex that surpasses the previous spatial one and raises the question, as Kafka reflects regarding the partial construction system of the Great Wall of China: “what kind of defence can offer a discontinuous wall?” (Kafka, 1999). The control system used in contemporary public spaces is not related to the opposition of physical entrance–only restricted in “emergency” situations- but to the tabulation and legislation of the possible actions that could happen in the space. So, instead of using a wall that separates and forbids the entrance to Puerta del Sol, what happens is that hundreds of eyes are watching you: digital ones (cameras), analogue ones (police presence 24/7) and those of the other users.


Under the threshold of detectability: Real Time politics.

^ Real-time analysis of Puerta del Sol that calculates movement, density and sound.

Years ago, some of the pedestrians that could be found in Puerta del Sol were doing administrative paperwork. Before, we had to go to places for doing things. Now, we move around bit torrents, interconnected digital networks, synchronized and instant events that no longer carry information linearly but they interactively mutate and connect whenever and wherever we can. The new chronopolitics (Virilio, 2006 [1977]) is, as well, a politic of the weight of the data where, in the case of Sol, is sometimes restricted due to the use of frequency inhibitors.

The remote spatial reality comes through the screen and supersedes the geographical horizon, stripping what unites us all: time. “Time has become during the last decades what natural resources were to preceding epochs. Constantly measured and priced, this vital raw material continues to spur the growth of economies built on a foundation of terabytes and gigabits per second” (Scientific American, 2006).

^ People recording the Real Madrid´s 11th Champions League Celebration with their smartphones, 21:03, 29/05/2016

The increasing despatialization of some functions linked to the public space transform the relation between the ancient places of meeting and its inhabitants: “when time became a structured entity, was formed as space; time was incarnated in the spaces of information flows” (Castells, 1995).

Real-Time technology has instituted a state of simultaneity where we can no longer clearly distinguish between what is infrastructure and what is not. Is a smartphone less infrastructure than a road? In Puerta del So, real-Time was used as a weapon through social networks by bringing together and coordinating people through hashtags such as #spanishrevolution, #democraciarealya, #nonosvamos, #15M, #juntaelectoralfacts or #notenemosmiedo – to carry food and beverages, to inform about the meetings, public assemblies, technical needs or to move from one place to another to fend off the baton charges. This event visualized the decline in importance of the spatial city and the rise of usage of real-timed tools by activist to inaugurate the most radical and alternative practice of the temporal urbanity:  synchronizing both flows of people and protest, using speed to challenge the status quo and displaying both an unprecedented precision and accuracy in their development.

Real Time logic has imposed over the rest of temporalities, imposing an infra-ordinary sovereignty where we no longer know how government or violence will look like, how injustice functions and is delivered, how control will be imposed, how daily life will be controlled or how built environments will react to it.




Pace, speed, velocity in the city: slowmovements.

^ Broadcast stage during the anniversary of the 15M movement, 20:34, 15/05/2016

During the 15th of May 2016, the day that commemorated the fifth anniversary of the 15M, there were several demonstrations programmed to end up in Puerta del Sol. When the protesters arrived to the square they found a huge rectangular stage installed, with the authorization of the lefitist government of Madrid, right in the middle of the square. The setting was prepared in order to broadcast a TV show of the private channel “La Sexta” where several commentators will talk about the development and evolution of the “indignados” movement in real time, in the centre of the protest while they were protesting. It supports the argument towards the growing importance of affective narration and temporality within urban environments: “to become symbolic doesn´t mean to become “merely academic”, but rather to become explicitly saturated by fantasy” (Berlant, 2012).

Anniversaries, commemorations and one year celebrations are temporal nodes that try to tie certain narratives to a specific space. This moments of arritmia, as vacations or festivities, are what Eugenio D´Ors called “baroque institutions” as they make discipline viable. Is in this controlled, regulated and legislated space-times, where “the law and order of labour reaches its plenitude of value “(Lasén, 2000). In those specific dates and during certain hours “special” activities are allowed and never under other terms. In this sense, the most important feature of protests is that they “have to be temporary with transient and limited duration, in order to not affect the rights of others such as the right to free movement of other citizens” ( Art.19, EC).

This was basically the reflection by the 15M, they decided to establish a camp in the plaza, a city within a city, in order to subvert the ephemeral condition that the authorities placed above them. This was one of the reasons why the authorities were extremely nervous. The camp had no date for dismantling and the only response they were getting was the catchphrase: “we are going slowly because we are going far away”.

^ “Afinsa” and “Forum Filatélico” protest, 14:06, 03/06/2016

Moreover, “rhythm is in its origin the rhythm of the feet” (Canetti, 1977) and the decision of staying still is one of the most important resistance measures that could be performed. Not moving, stay, endure in time and not disappear is one of the most effective instruments handled by protest movements. By some means, slowing down and stopping the usual pace of the public space is a way of disconnection to the status quo logic, as demonstrations are more like an interruption than a rupture.

In this sense the idea of permanence, of using duration against the space of movement, of transport, was a fruitful strategy to charge the constructed milieu with the energy of protest, unlinking -for some time- because it not only “sent a visual message […] but also temporarily reconstructed city streets from places for transportation into places of protest […] (Re)constructing the meaning of place, even in temporary ways, can be a tactical act of resistance along with the tactics we traditionally associate with protest” (Endres, 2011).


Protest like an affective multi-mob: rhythmopolitics

^ Animalist Defence protest with choreography, 16:44, 04/10/2016

Looking at the images of big protest in Puerta del Sol confronts its spectacular visual nature with the amorphous and overcrowding aspect of the mob. We are going to forget about its visual composition, the mass, and look at its most notable chthonic flow: rhythm. As for protest, “in the beginning there was rhythm” (The Slits, 1980 split single).

Despite the event of the 15M camp, every other protest that has happened in Puerta del Sol is not defined by permanence but by liquidity, temporality and rhythm. Thinking rhythmically means not tying individuals and groups to one static and closed state of being but understanding that it is a moving/changing entity that has the power of working in simultaneous levels and conditions. It adds temporality and simultaneity.

This view allows to understand the connection or disconnection of every participant to the general affect of the action and, also, the diverse intensities of affect during one protest and in different locations of the demonstration. The heterogeneity and multiplicity of ways to connect and disconnect are enormous and only sometimes, “individual consciences vibrate in unison” (Durkheim, 1986) and the resonance is maximum. Bodies in protest play this corporal symphony where the rhythm is based on a repulsion-attraction feedback that alternates “the loss of multitude and solitude, in the dialectics of self-us” (Lasén, 2000).

^ Gay Pride celebration, 01:03, 02/06/2016

Protests are a rhythmical process of “mutual turning-in” (Schültz, 1964) such us playing a theatrical piece, dancing together, playing in a sports team or fornicating in where the own rhythm of the protesters can be thought in a kind of “choreographic” form of leadership (Gerbaudo, 2012) in which the participants experiment the “me” and “you” as “us” at specific times.

“They have rhythms, valences, moods, sensations, tempos and lifespans” (Stewart, 2011). Atmosphere, as habitat, influences the systems of togetherness in which architecture participates becomes part of the rhythms by resonating, bouncing, disappearing or absorbing the affectivities of people and things. Protesting in Puerta del Sol, for the progressive movements, has always a special rhythm since the 15M, as “its becoming-event remains open. That´s in the nature of all events: they become dormant but remain resources in potential” (Berlant, 2012).









To be heard and sound: Aurality.

^ Protest in favour of Syrian Refugees, 19:21, 11/03/2016

Rhythmic process feed constantly and uninterruptedly from their surrounding sound reality. The importance of the aural medium during any protest is crucial as the rhythmic element is, mostly, supported by the affective drive of sound. Sound can either amplify or kill a certain tempo, independently to the content of its lyrics. Sound resonates further than its linguistic meaning, it vibrates together or against affect to eliminate or potentiate certain tempos. Sound matter is the rhythmic temporal substance par excellence.

We should not be surprised that some of the most effective “security” measures to impede protest or juvenile gatherings have been the use of sound as a weapon. The examples are vast ranging from the psychoacoustic correction used by the U.S. Army and the sonic bombs at the Gaza Strip, to the sound repellants that emit high frequencies only heard by teenagers that impede their gathering in commercial malls[9]. As Goodman explains “sound can be deployed to produce discomfort, express a threat, or create an ambience of fear or dread–to produce a bad vibe” (Goodman, 2009).

^ Workers of Coca-Cola protest, 12:28, 26/11/2015

Most of the protest sounds act as “rhythmic dischargers” (Lapassade, 1976) as repetitive and obsessed sounds in order to power the communicational action as well as synchronizing the different members. Aurality, together to its synchronization, is another device used to transform the public space and create an out of the ordinary momentum of communion: something external to quotidian life in which participants are part of something larger.

Sonic actions resonate in the public space to reach us and colonize the urban environment where the protest is taking place and, at the same time, it is a form of affective attachment between anonymous citizens. Sometimes, the public space is used as a resonance box, a pure music instrument that is used as a megaphone to channel the affective impulses of the participants. It hits the facades of the different architectures and gives back a certain quality of sound. “Like art, urbanism can either repress modes of being or reveal new sensory possibilities that instigate novel forms of political subjectivity –which can be defined as the awareness of one´s own (and others´) political position and of how existing relationships might be changed in the future” (Rios, 2012).


What you are and allowed to do: nomosphericity.

^ Clearing Puerta del Sol in order to control the capacity crowd for a celebration.

The coercive power of architecture is constantly visible, visually detectable and conflictive but if we look to the chthonic system that regulates its process of becoming a human habitat, we can find interesting implications to protest spaces. The way in which an architecture appears and is used into the urban environment is riddled with lots of legislations and definitions. “Who gets to establish authoritative thick definitions of people´s needs is itself a political stake” (Fraser, 1989).

The legislative control of urban affects is even incorporated in the Spanish Constitution that guarantees the right of demonstration and expression only on the ground of the existence of a group of people, with a political demand, occupying public space for a transitional duration of time with lawfulness to come to an end and developed in one particular venue (Art. 21.2 Spanish Constitution) and any other is disregarded.

^ Nike event in Puerta del Sol, 22:57, 27/09/2015

The “law” dictates every possibility of using built architectures: how someone should behave at what times. “On the map of the city, we can most acutely observe that governance is not a question of imposing law on people, but of regulating things so that individual conduct situates itself within a determined frame of possible actions.” (Segal, 2012). Protests legislations clearly show that the temporal character of (public) space is an important arena of politics and power.

Legislations try to tabulate the way in which people uses the city; they set a perimeter of possible actions during a certain period of time. It implies a simulation of all the possible behaviours and define a prototype of citizen that will conduct itself under this conditions. There is no room for spontaneity and personal timing does not even exist. Individual time is completely persecuted within cities, there is no room for personal desires or rarities, peculiarities, eccentricities. This is the reason why the biggest urban “others” are the ones that do not work or shop; the less you work and buy, the more you are not welcomed in the public space.


Temporal conclusions: simultaneolitics or the city within a city.

^ 24 hours cycle of 7 different days in Puerta del Sol

“Although each of us knows that on Earth all the seasons of the year, all climates, and all hours of the day and night exist together at every moment, we generally do not think about it” (Lem, 1984). Puera del Sol is a territory disputed legally, physically, virtually, economically, politically and socially. This is the current state of Sol, located in a city that holds the world record of demonstrations, more an imaginary and fantasy environment than an actual public space.

We may argue that it is a Hybrid Space (Vogelaar, 2006) where the superposition of diverse, distinct and conflictive spatial realities come together to form a unified concept of space. Well, it is actually a Hybrid “Space-Time” as its temporal dimension is the key element for understanding its most defining aspect: simultaneity.

After 1.097 hours of Puerta del Sol, we wanted to describe many of the hidden layers that lie below our eyes, the obscure and chthonic ones, in order to make an argument defending and demonstrating the necessity of writing more complex narratives about the city, capable of taking account its intricate temporality, so it is to say its simultaneity: “different spatial logics are superimposed in any “lived” space” (Kluitenberg, 2015) both at the same time and throughout time.

^ Broadcast stage in the middle of “Rajoy No” protest, 20:15, 29/10/2016

Simultaneity has been an important part of cities since its origin but it has only been rendered unavoidable since the introduction of the so called “second layers” that have blurred the limits and dichotomies that directed, controlled and governed the design of cities. The temporal complexity of Puerta del Sol exposes why space is an empty notion if understood as something static in time–today there could be happening a protest against child labour exploitation by fashion companies and the next day there could be a sponsored event by the same enterprises- but, also, if it does not acknowledge the different tempos that are at work simultaneously –some protester could be participating in a animalism demonstration while using Tindr application to find a date for afterwards-.

Puerta del Sol is a fundamental urban environment because it is, either and at the same, the most iconic place for demonstrations, protests, parades, tourism or consumerism; the spatial incarnation of the powerful and the poor simultaneously, the magnificence and the misery, the quotidian and the extraordinary. Sol has the complexity of being a diverse public space where controversy and multiple versions of the quotidian coexist while, at the same time, the spectacular and the unusual happen. Today, the new strangers are not the ones that live far but the ones that live literally in another time. Only through the lens of simultaneity, embracing contradiction, the whole complexity of protest spaces is graspable.

^ Greenpeace protest to save the Artic, 12:23, 23/11/2016

Demonstrations and protest are crucial elements where to look for a diagnosis on the actual health of any city because “the principle of political interlocution is thus disagreement” (Rancière, 2010). Superposition always implies controversy and consensus is not the only answer to it. We neglect the participatory vision of a city of total concord and propose an urbanity capable of having a real simultaneolitics where diversities can coexist and be expressed in a nonviolent way.


Looking back to this sort of diary, we realize that there are an immense array of things that we left unwritten, the blurred meanings, the conflicts not seen, the chthonic creatures that remain obscure. However, we like to think of this article as one of those “big enough histories, able to account for a lot, but not for everything –and without guarantees of political virtue-“ (Clifford, 2013). We cannot end this article without referring to one of the visible but most unseen and, therefore, important chthonic flows: the cleaning underworld of our habitats.

^ Cleaning machines and workers doing their jobs at Puerta del Sol, 04:11, 13/01/2016

[1] The social page of the event:

[2] Website of the program:

[3] See:

[4] To follow the online thread of the conversation, without any participation of either Javier or Rodrigo, see:

[5] We acknowledge that there is an ongoing debate around the meaning and significance of public space, but as it is not the intent of this article to engage with this debate, we will take Manuel Delgado´s definition as “the differentiated space-time for gathering, that registers a general and steady exchange of information and is supported by mobility” (Delgado, 2016).

[6] Some theorist have suggested that this claim was only a metaphor of the strength of the empire. Even if this was true, romans perfectly mastered the power of edifices, architecture and art as representational apparatuses. As Maecenas advises Augustus: “Make this capital beautiful, spare no expense in doing so, and enhance its magnificence with festivals of every kind. It is right for us who rule over so many peoples to excel all others in every field of endeavour, and even display of this kind tends to implant respect for us in our allies and to strike terror into our enemies” (Dio, 1987).

[7] It is not the purpose of this article to establish a strict debate around the difference between affect and emotion only differentiating, in an abstract way, the level and velocity of each –affect as something more primitive, abstract and not yet conscious while emotion as more formed, visible and describable- as “drawing an excessively strong distinction between affect and emotion, is paradoxically to perpetuate the illusion that those words are referred, without any problem, to determined states of the reality” (Greco, 2008).

[8] To see a complex critique of this see the article: Gothemburg.