During the 2018-2019 Vertical Atlas Research Labs five geozones were explored and re-mapped, focusing on the technological and political borders, connections and frictions within them, and looking at the different ways digital technologies function culturally. Prominent voices in policy making, law, art, design and technology were invited to develop new perspectives on global and regional techno-politics. The content produced and documented from these events is available in this web magazine. The concepts, ideas and strategies developed during this time serve to inform the development of Vertical Atlas’s publication.
Vertical Atlas Research Labs were divided in 5 iterations, one for each geozone. Every iteration included an evening of public talks followed by a day-long research lab. The public events took place in both the Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam during Thursday Night Live and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. During each lab, invited experts discussed and worked towards the collective co-creation of new maps for each geozone. The overlapping of all the discussions that took place during the Labs and that were generated throughout the project insofar constituted greatly towards the conceptual development of Vertical Atlas.
The logic of the geozone was developed and used during the Research Labs in response to the question: How to make sense of the interconnections and disconnections between all these elements and the maps we use to see the world with? Geozones might not be individuated through a conventional focus on states, but rather as trans-continental regions that defy common cartographical logics. Today, borders of data sovereignty in cyberspace are as fundamental as political and geological ones. Each geozone is characterised by a certain techno-political arrangement, its related set of frictions and fractures among the political, economic and algorithmic sovereignties. Prominent voices from the regions were invited to interrogate, challenge and/or implement the techno-political reality at their own coordinates.
The Vertical Atlas Research Labs were focused on 5 extended geozones or infospheres: Europe, Russia, China, the Persian/Arabian Gulf and Africa.