Prisons are invisible spaces. Located mostly outside of the city centers they appear to passengers as walls rarely allowing a view inside. Nevertheless the build structures in which convicts are kept and the surveillance methods behind it have always been a subject of debate and a sign for the relation between dignity and efficiency in a society.
The best way to catch a glimpse behind those walls and fences is from above. The images below show the outlines of prison buildings in different regions of the world. For each region the prisons are sorted by size and are in proportion to each other. To create those pictures Hans Hack combined his long-lasting interest in artistic typologies and his skills as a web developer. He programmed a map based tool, that automatizes the search for buildings being marked as prisons for a selected area. The project is a work in progress and will be extended in time.
In fact it is not the achievement of a few specialists but the power of the crowd that collected the data being necessary for this project. The tool is based on OpenStreeMap, a collaborative project that creates much more than a map but an enormous data base. People working on it not only draw the outlines of buildings to be seen on the map but can also leave information about it.
Some of the prisons on Hans Hacks pictures are empty. There is just an outline without any structure inside. That means that the data provided had no buildings included – they still have to be drawn. Also many prisons have not been recorded yet. There are still lots of invisible spaces. But in the 21. century any one can help to shed light on them.