[1] Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias.” Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité, October 1984. Originally published as “Des Espace Autres,” March 1967. Translated from French by Jay Miskowiec. Heterotopias are spaces where multiple realities of difference and non-hegemonic bodies are implemented in relation to the singular, nonexistent ideal of utopia. Amusement parks derive from an architectural tradition of world’s fairs and expositions, which were described by Walter Benjamin as capitalist visions of utopia without revolution. These parks stage ideal forms of society as host to its own social and political contradictions. The “real” histories of amusement parks as heterotopian conflict zones are numerous and ongoing. As industrial spaces of leisure oriented to a service-based economy, amusement parks and subsequent corporate theme parks aptly mark a post-industrial, information-based, or network society. Recalling the 1976 forward to Daniel Bell’s original The Coming of Post-Industrial Society [Bell, Daniel. The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting. New York: Basic Books. 1976], amusement parks may be viewed as what he terms “Situses as political units” [pp. xvii], where situses derives from Latin situ, or location may well become the “...loci of political attachment.”[ibid] As a cultural space, Bell would likely classify the amusement park as a functional situs.[ibid]

[2] Kelley, Robin D.G. “Playing for Keeps: Pleasure and Profit on the Post-Industrial Playground” in The House that Race Built, ed. Wahneema Lubiano.Vintage (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1999). In many films examined for Playground Battleground, amusement parks and other playgrounds are subject to multiple cycles of urban decay, reflecting an interplay of social and economic conditions. Robin D.G.Kelley’s essay addresses how such conditions haveimpacted the racial, gendered, and economic disparities of recreational access in American cities closing the 20th Century. Kelley’s explication invites readers to understand how the city and infrastructure itself is improvised as a playground because of, and despite post-industrial decay. Such decay resulted from privatization and out-migration of public resources -- read: white flight -- for dedicated recreation. Of course, a lack of access to recreation indicates a lack of access to more basic needs such as education, housing, and employment.

[3] Wolcott, Victoria W. Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle Over Segregated Recreation in America. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. In her ambitious historical project, Wolcott compels readers to understand the connection between freedom and fun by reexamining how sites of urban recreation became instrumental in the 20th Century African-American Civil Rights Movement. Acknowledging ongoing struggle against anti-black racism as foundational to multiple (if not most) social movements and understandings in the U.S. empire, the statement for Playground Battleground lists a variety of subjectivities, coordinates, processes, and visions parsed by combinatory social theories like intersectionalityassemblageperformativityaffect, and resurgent coalitional fervors around decolonization. Summoning the post-industrial, though, these social theories of identity and action may revisit a political economy which previously ignored, siloed, or universalized them. This is despite specific articulations such as urban recreation and the Civil Rights Movement within (or in some timelines presaging) post-industrial clutches. There is no question that post-industrialism was ever - nor was it ever intended to be - an adequate or complete model for theorizing "difference," much less liberation. In fact, much post-industrial political economy questions how social difference theorized elsewhere should be managed by the growing pains of capitalism through rising tides of Social Democratic schemes, neoliberal and neoconservative throttling, and the once-prevalent boogeyman of globalization. Synonymous to ushering in an information-based society and, thus, the basis for the internet, post-industrialism provides a partial undergirding for reproduction, maintainenance, or alteration of processes by which subjects came to act, identify or become identifiable at all in relation to democratic-capitalist institutions. Within a swath of contemporaneous “posts” (most of which share degrees of overlap) like postmodern and postcolonial, post-industrial is an economic, political, and geographic descriptor that may prime analyses for how other “posts” became produced and consumed (networked) in the first place. Some may argue this is a roundabout way to describe a morphing imperialism. Even so, post-industrial articulates a dynamic, inherently disciplinary, backdrop for ongoing imperial hegemony. The era from which "post-industrial" was first termed, the 1970s later mark what David Harvey calls in 2004 a "'New' Imperialism" via "accumulation by dispossession."

[4] Bassett, Caroline and Wilbert, Chris. “Where you want to go today (like it or not): Leisure Practices in Cyberspace” in Leisure/Tourism Geographies: Practices and Geographical Knowledge ed. David Crouch (New York: Routledge, 1999). Bassett and Wilbert’s essay studies Geocities communities and gender in the late 1990s. For more on internet access , U.S. democracy, its markets, and legislation - its access to new forms of leisure collapsing into new forms of labor - please see the FCC’s: Telecommunications Act of 1996, 2005 tenets of an Open Internet, the defeated 2012 SOPA and PIPA Acts, Open Internet Order of 2010 and 2015, repeal of 2017, and current legal battles now playing out between states and the federal government. For more on internet collapse of leisure into labor, please see Jonathan Crary’s 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep. New York, NY: Verso Books, 2014.

[5] Steyerl, Hito. “In Defense of the Poor Image.” in Hito Steyerl: Wretched of the Screen, 31-45. Berlin, DE: Sternberg Press, 2012. Hito Steyerl states: “The poor image is a rag or a rip; an AVI or a JPEG, a lumpen proletariat in the class society of appearances, ranked and valued according to its resolution. The poor image has been uploaded, downloaded, shared, reformatted, and reedited. It transforms quality into accessibility, exhibition value into cult value, films into clips, contemplation into distraction. The image is liberated from the vaults of cinemas and archives and thrust into digital uncertainty, at the expense of its own substance. The poor image tends toward abstraction: it is a visual idea in its very becoming.” (32) “The poor image is no longer about the real thing—the originary original. Instead, it is about its own real conditions of existence: about swarm circulation, digital dispersion, fractured and flexible temporalities. It is about defiance and appropriation just as it is about conformism and exploitation. In short: it is about reality.” (45) Aria Dean cites Steyerl in her 2016 essay, “Poor Meme, Rich Meme,” Real Life Magazine -- http:// poor-meme-rich-meme/ -- which discusses the operations, complexities and contradictions of race, racism, and appropriation in internet memes. Dean anchors her analysis by theorising a networked condition of blackness, partly configured by disapora as an anticipation of the “... post-industrial drives to fluxes and deterritorialization...” (Beatrice Ferrara quoted by Dean) - expounding on the politics of digital circulation in Steyerl's “poor image.”

[6] Droitcour, Brian. “Why I Hate Post-Internet Art.” 2014. A well-publishedcritic, Droitcour takes his etymology and thinking about the proto- prefix from cultural theorist Mikhail Epstein. Please also see Zach Blas’ film, Jubilee 2033 from his traveling 2017 exhibition Contra-Internet. Inspired by Derek Jarman’s 1978 queer-punk cult classic, Jubilee, Blas’ film imagines the year 2033 as a dystopian queer uprising after the fall of the internet: a vision shown by an A.I. hologram to Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, and Joan Mitchell in the 1950s upon taking LSD.




Reflecting real urban histories of leisure and recreation, amusement parks are heterotopias[1] in the U.S. imaginary: sites to confront and mediate social difference, engineered in popular film from dominant -- read: mostly white and male -- directorship. While these confrontations might perform general functions of public space, amusement parks enchant them through a capitalist wish-image of industrial and post-industrial spectacle. Rather, amusement parks and other playgrounds mystify how post-industrial economies arrange, or have been arranged by, the social.[2] From movies produced and distributed by American companies, Playground Battleground: The Social as Post-Industrial Phantasm in the Protonetic Era / Screenshots of Pirated Movies is a proposed exhibition or an index unto itself, featuring pirated screenshots from: Lady from Shanghai (1947), Strangers on a Train (1951), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), The Little Fugitive (1953), Night Tide(1961), Carnival of Souls (1962), The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964), Westworld (1973), Switchblade Sisters (1975), Warriors (1979), Supergirl (1984), The New Kids (1985), Lost Boys (1987), Hairspray (1988), My Girl (1991) Terminator 2 (1991), Batman Returns (1992), Jurassic Park (1993), Fear (1996), Baby Geniuses (1999), Scooby-Doo (2002), Atonement (2007), Hanna (2011), Down the Shore (2011), and Jack the Reaper (2011), with anticipation of Us (2019). Using the internet as a mutated cultural archive, the films in question image a loose chronology of an American “post-industrial history” from 1947-2011(tentatively 2019).

Playground Battleground compiles filmic instances of amusement parks and other play zones transformed into sites of conflict. As conscious and unconscious symptoms of dominant cultural production, such conflicts evidence(and often reproduce) issues of class, classism, sexuality, homophobia, race, white supremacy and its attendant racisms, gender, misogyny, cissexism, ability, ableism, nationality, nationalism, xenophobia, soviet anxiety, nuclear and atomic tensions, orientalism, imperialism, settler colonialsim, de-indigenization, cultural encodings of HIV & AIDS, family structure and values, age, ageism, urbanity, rurality, suburbanity, surveillance, militarization, policing, and variations of the post-human subject. Spaces of fun, entertainment, leisure, play, and amusement highlight prescribed social limits of democratic freedom. Rather, fun is a barometer for how publics, communities, and individuals are, and are not, “free.”[3] Captured from pirated versions of each film, Playground Battleground calls attention to a broader social ethics of the bootleg, where legal status and accessibility of producing, distributing, and consuming media -- specifically through the internet, in part a morphology of leisure[4] -- reinscribes, challenges, or reinvents contested social boundaries of democracy in the U.S. free market. In other words, social freedoms of American publics depend on their recognition as producers and consumers: digital bootleg movies and other networked media complicate this recognition.

Degradation in the pirated digital image evidences this process of shared or re-claimed ownership of private and corporate media.[5] As screen captures are a means to literally “stop time”, the bootlegged stills stand witness, taken in proximity to the FCC’s net neutrality repeal of 2017. The subtitle of Playground Battleground calls upon the protonetic - derived from proto-internet as a term to describe the internet in a process of becoming. This term contrasts cynical preemptive departures connoted by terms like “post-internet.”[6] Perhaps now facing an accurate ‘post’ departure, or caught in another phase of an ever-becoming ‘proto’, our internet experience - seeming an infinitely more complex space of self, agitation, and community - remains haunted by phantasms of a post-industrial order. This order continually recalcifies, dictating to internet users the tools for play and fun, and thus, new limits of prescribed freedom and representation. Such limits appear when seizing tools for civic recognition, battle, and exorcism.