Urban Exploring (Urbex)

From previous posts, it may be apparent that I have attempted ‘Urban Exploring’, but I never thought it could be used a project at Uni.

My original concept was looking at the divide between public and private land and our activities occupying each. I had an original idea of photographing windows, from public space (streets), and what we can see in them from the outside world. This developed into maybe creating potential crime scenes in these windows and posing a question to my audience about the ethics of their ability to step in and stop crimes even though it would be on private residence.
This concept is still current in my research and potential for production.

Although, when discussing topics and paths around this, my tutor guided me in a different direction. The way I would attempt to describe it, almost sounds exactly the same as above… but is more directed to the private land of disused areas. For example, Urban Exploring. Urbex has almost become a cult of photographers with a growing social media presence and forums sharing locations and updates on their conditions and the security surrounding them.

Photographer Bradley Garrett produces work which feels like a documentary of his life exploring the world and the private sections we usually would never see. My view on his work is; that he is occupying private areas and opening the public eye to these usually unseen areas, using photography as a gateway between the private and public divide.

As I have literally just research Garrett yesterday, it is rather uncanny to see such similarities between his and my photos from my urban exploring day, especially of the abandoned buildings.

The only problem now is; how can I shape a project around the urban exploring and public/private concept that is different to the way Garrett has captured images. The work I’ve produced is just too similar for my liking, plus when I originally shot I never had a clear concept of using any of the images for a project, they were just for personal documentary form.

I need to break into a higher level of critical thinking; bringing in social, political and economic concepts to hopefully approach my work to a more critical audience?

Social. There is already a massive social presence behind Urband Exploring, with sites like  28 Days Later, and on other social media platforms. There is definitely a community of people who want to help each other finding new locations and ways into them, but they’re also very careful in the way they post information on these forums as to not get caught by police. For example, if someone was listing how to get into a derelict building, and then the building was sabotaged shortly after, police could easily use these forums to hold users accountable for damages. Debates arise about how much they could be held accountable for, I mean some buildings are on their last legs.

Political. The legalities around this ‘sport’ (term used loosely because I can’t think what else to call it…) are obvious; trespassing; breaking and entering; etc… But why is it considered trespassing if no one uses the land and they are usually such rich sources for art (like photography, not the pathetic excuses of graffiti usually found in buildings) that are just left to waste, rarely being rebuilt upon for much, apart from Bracebridge Heath.

Economic. Most of these disused buildings are owned privately, and were acquired for a large some of money. The actual cost of these buildings to restore to original would probably cost considerable amounts more than bought for, and so they are sat there burning money as their value decreases. Although, some do get renovated to alternative builds, like housing estates.

I need to explore how to exploit these social, political and economic aspects to produce work keeping with current themes that my audience will relate to.


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