In his 1988 essay entitled “The City as Wave-Trough in the Image Flood”, Vilém Flusser offers a novel way to conceive of an urban centre: as a weighted place that imposes on a gravitational field and draws people towards it. This weight does not come from the city’s traditional institutions, rather it is created by an intersubjective field of [human] relations. In Gochenour’s translation he refers to this draw as a flection, which of course conjures its opposite: deflection.
Deflection or repulsion from a populated area could take the form of deportations, mass migrations, or expulsion from a country. In Rotman and Mauas’ Eternal Sukkah project, they attempted to represent the deflected in the religious gravity well of Jerusalem. Their reconstruction of a Bedouin hut during a Jewish holiday intended to reference the migration of the Jews from Egypt highlights the role of religion in ostracizing cultures in Israel. The Eternal Sukkah was an attempt to entangle the realities of people from neighbouring geographies, a knotting together of “intersubjective relationships”, as Flusser might describe it.
Michael Hardt sees this knotting together as a necessary condition for the heteropolis. When diverse populations knot together under a common political project, they transition from simply being a multiplicity to being a multitude, which in Flusser’s conception of the city carries additional weight. Hardt, however, hints at the sinister potential of planned homogeneity, which in the case of the Bedouins of the West Bank, only results in ongoing deflections.