This image by New York-based photographer Jon Tyson encapsulates the guiding philosophy of the Journal. It projects each of three foci and their arranging. First, there is law in this image. It is not the usual legal iconography of books and courts and the paraphernalia of institutional justice. Law is immediately suggested in action. This image is public art – graffiti – there is in looking at it an unknown as to its legality. Is this image illegal – a trespass on private property by paint and creativity? Is it legal, protected by other laws and regulations on the preservation of public art as cultural heritage or right to speech? Its liminal legality suggests not only the core tools of modern law – property, rights, policing, regulation – but also rival legalities to the sovereignty of modern law – the spontaneous ‘laws’ of diverse human communities.
There is also technology front and centre in the image; although it is not the smooth, LED lit, corporate and sanitised images of technology that are often deployed. Here technology is central, but has become every-day. It is the technology of bricks and the suggestion of a New York brownstone – technological assemblages that have given rise to global intense urbanisation. There is also implicated the massed produced aerosol spray paint, a highly problematic technology in its public art applications but also in contributions to climate change. The image reminds that technologies become normal, lose their shiny newness, have consequences never forethought and become deployed by humans to make meaning in surprising ways.
Which comes to the dominate projection from the image – the portrait a woman of colour. She is emerging through the brickwork. Her strong eyes are watching and a reflective finger is gently on her chin. She is an alternative to George Orwell’s Big Brother. She is watching, thinking, possibly judging, but without the technological horror of the authoritarian panopticon. With suggestions of a headscarf, she is not the man of privilege and power that is often invoked when law and technology is discussed. She is colourful. Yet she is not passive; there is a sense of purposefulness to her watching, thinking and judging. She is composed of law and technology, yet her humanity is evident. She urges the contributors to the Journal to see, reflect, think and judge the ways that law and technology are making and remaking the humans and their world.
Professor Kieran Tranter, Chief Editor Law, Technology and Humans