In Handbook of Tyranny author Theo Deutinger visualizes the global cruelties of today by means of graphic illustrations. We talked to him about his research, shocking facts and the madness we are witnessing today.
The cruelties featured in Handbook of Tyranny reflect the day-to-day implementation of laws and regulations around the globe – none of them represent extraordinary violence. In every chapter – amongst them Walls & Fences, Refugee Camps and Crowd Control – complex and difficult-to-understand facts and circumstances are transformed into accessible visual information by infographics. Handbook of Tyranny gives a profound insight into the relationship between political power, territoriality and systematic cruelties.
In 2005, I noticed the general world trend toward building more walls and I did extensive documentation on where these walls are built and which people they shut out or fence in. The longer I dealt with the subject, the more detailed and architectural the analysis became. My team and I thus arrived relatively “naturally” at the sweeping scope and type of representation in the Handbook of Tyranny.
We listed all the information in Excel tables. This relatively simple program helped us to create ordering principles to use as basis for the illustrations. Raw data is a pretty messy thing. But organizing it in the right way turns it into information, which we could then interpret and illustrate. I have gradually refined this approach over the past decade and developed it into a method.
I would have to say it was the 18-meter-deep sheet pile wall against smuggling tunnels dug between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, which demonstrates how resolutely the battle of exclusion is being fought. The 12-kilometer-long wall was co-financed by the USA. What's absurd about it is that the wall already proved during construction to be completely inefficient, because smugglers had simply cut holes through it with a blowtorch.
Israel is now building a new concrete wall on its border with the Gaza Strip that is supposedly more than 30 meters deep. So we haven’t reached the tip of the iceberg yet.
First, you have to ask the question: “What is our world?” If I am a resident of Syria, the Gaza Strip or Afghanistan, then my world does not look too good at the moment. If I’m at home in Zurich, Vienna or Amsterdam, things are not going too badly at first glance. Generally speaking. Looking at it in more detail, there is plenty of madness going on below the surface of our world as well.
And because we’re doing so well, we no longer see it. Or maybe we don’t want to see it? We want healthy meat but no slaughterhouses, we want beautiful cities but no homeless people, we want a safe public space but no barricades. A great deal of energy is invested in hiding security mechanisms and methods of attack that we under no circumstances want to be aware of.
The Handbook of Tyranny illustrates and exposes these deliberately concealed everyday realities. Not in order to moralize, but to enable us to work against them. A handbook is also there to point out weaknesses. Once you know how something works, it is much easier to render it non-functional. The hope is ultimately that the Handbook of Tyranny will in the not-too-distant future be regarded as a historical document.
After doing all the research for the Handbook of Tyranny, I have come to despise security even more than before. The striving for security or a feeling of security continuously destroys freedoms at every level. Humans naturally need some basic form of security to survive and organize their lives. But I now see that we have attained a highly unhealthy, almost crippling level of security.