Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 139–149 | Cite as

Art as a Means to Disrupt Routine Use of Space

  • Karen Martin
  • Ben Dalton
  • Marialena Nikolopoulou


This paper examines the publicly visible aspects of counter-terrorism activity in pedestrian spaces as mechanisms of disruption. We discuss the objectives of counter-terrorism in terms of disruption of routine for both hostile actors and general users of public spaces, categorising the desired effects as 1) triangulation of attention; 2) creation of unexpected performance; and 3) choreographing of crowd flow. We review the potential effects of these existing forms of disruption used in counter-terrorism. We then present a palette of art, advertising, architecture, and entertainment projects that offer examples of the same disruption effects of triangulation, performance and flow. We conclude by reviewing the existing support for public art in counter-terrorism policy, and build on the argument for art as an important alternative to authority. We suggest that while advocates of authority-based disruption might regard the playfulness of some art as a weakness, the unexpectedness it offers is perhaps a key strength.


art terrorism counterterrorism disruption authority 



This research is conducted as part of the ‘Shades of Grey – Towards a Science of Interventions for Eliciting and Detecting Notable Behaviors’ project (EPSRC reference: EP/H02302X/1). We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for providing thought-provoking and invaluable feedback on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Martin
    • 1
  • Ben Dalton
    • 2
  • Marialena Nikolopoulou
    • 1
  1. 1.CASE, Kent School of ArchitectureUniversity of KentCanterburyUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Art, Environment & TechnologyLeeds Metropolitan UniversityLeedsUK

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