#01 on Floatation / Floater Magazine suggests an inventory of floatation mechanisms within architecture; Without Stability, Without Foundation / Flip is an ocean research platform that capsizes in order to maintain its stability. Yannikos Vassiloulis presents the mechanism of this paradoxical stability / Armin Linke’s images of astronauts and divers project the realities of a utopian body equipped with prosthetics that provide the ability to exist in conditions of No Gravitation / Wave Garden by Yusuke Obuchi and Meduseabloo by b. are performative, highly intelligent environments capable of collecting and administrating data / In 1968, Takis invented Oscillation of the Sea; a device that translates the motion of the sea surface into kinetic energy / Dimitris Antonakakis describes the chronicle of an unusual project commissioned to Atelier66; redesigning the cruiser Libra Y the parameters of instability and non foundation demarcate a new territory for the architect / Louisa Adam explores architectural strategies and practices within contemporary cultural concerns, commenting on OMA’s Harbour of Ideas / Nikos Navridis cooperated with floater magazine for the production of a digital representation of his recent show Tomorrow will be a Wonderful Day... / Evi Sougara's interactive animation is based on J. Swift's Laputa; a mythical island from the novel Gulliver's Travels / Takis Zenetos’ Electronic Urban Planning Utopia is negotiated in juxtaposition with Maurizio Cattelan’s installation Mise-en-Scene. Nikos Tsimas declares floatation experiences as parameters that can provoke feelings of Pleasure and Awe / Micro-organisations, by Elysa Lozano, reflects the socio-political realities of Sealand's micronation, where the artist explores the potential of registering and developing a not for profit organization / in Floating and Sinking in Psychoanalysis Nikos Sideris analyses the mechanisms of floating and sinking in relation to both psychic structure and spatiality / Giorgos Lagoudakis suggests legal aspects of Floating Territories presenting specific archival cases along with the relative legal texts.

Floater #01 edited by Yannis Arvanitis, Elina Axioti, Yannis Papayannakis, Evi Sougara, Eleni Spiridaki, Yannikos Vassiloulis / Fall 2008.
Floating Territories
Giorgos Lagoudakis

By nature, the concept of law is inextricably bound up with the concept of space (territory). Law is most often defined as a system of rules enforced by a set of institutions - these institutions being either sovereign states (national and international law) or a supranational legal framework (ex the European Union law). In both cases, the application of these rules is limited to the territorial boundaries of the said institutions. It is however possible that the existence of 'floating territories' and territories oscillate between two or more sets of legal rules.

1. The Escamilla Case.[+] Floating Territories or Landmade Ships?

In the 1970s, a US citizen was killed by another US citizen on an ice island floating in the Arctic Ocean where they were both working as members of a research team. The incident took place while the ice island was floating in the Canadian Artic Sector. A US investigation team was sent to bring the offender back to the United States. The plane carrying him first landed in the state of Virginia, where the offender was charged with murder.

The issue that is raised with this case is whether the US, or Canada, or both national entities, have jurisdiction over this crime. Canada did not want to interfere with the course of justice in a case that concerned two US nationals. However, nor did it want its lack of involvement in this specific case to have any repercussions on its claim over the specific territory. The complexity of the issue consists in the fact that the territorial sovereignty claimed by Canada forms the basis of exclusive jurisdiction.

The ice island in question, called T-3, originated from ice shelves off of the Northern Coast of Ellesmere island, which is part of the Canadian territory of Nunavut. As long as these ice shelves are connected to the land through glaciers, they are generally considered to be land. The question of their status as land arises when these ice shelves break into large fragments floating on the Arctic Ocean. As mentioned above, Canada considered these ice islands to be Canadian territory at the time of the incident. Therefore, even though the incident concerned two US nationals, the forcible removal of one of them from the island on the basis of the United States´ jurisdiction over its nationals, should have been considered as a violation of Canada´s sovereign rights over its territory.

In order to avoid addressing the issue of sovereignty directly, the US court preferred to apply jurisdiction by relying upon the State of the Flag Rule. According to the aforementioned rule, a coastal state cannot exercise criminal jurisdiction on board of a foreign ship passing through territorial waters. The court considered the ice island as a ship. In other words, the ice island, literally a floating space, was considered in the same manner as an object. The importance of this territory"s floatation is striking when one considers the following implication: once away from the ice island/ship, the US national would be subjected to the jurisdiction of whichever state the plane carrying him first landed. If this state applied the capital punishment for such crimes, as opposed to Canada which did not enforce the death penalty, then the territory"s floatation between legal systems could mean the difference between life and death.

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