Urban Exploration

I wanted to do a post on Urban Exploration as, in terms of artistic movements in youth culture today, I find it the most exciting and credible. Young photographers creep through run down asylums of the past, trawl down the disused underground tunnels and catacombs of yesteryear and cleverly choose to document it which, my friends and I never did. Of course, most of us did the same type of things in our teens, what evolved from garden hopping soon became full on adventure and in the 80s everything was either run down or closed down, there were empty buildings of all types to explore in every city. This type of tress-passing for the sake of art clearly has its roots in the teenagers need to explore the world around him and the need for solace from outside world as he battles his way out of childhood and turns into a man. Ok, a bit deep, but in one recent article in the evening standard a fourteen year old boy said the only reason he did it was to escape other people. The graffiti movement was very similar, young men breaking into train depots or climbing up onto buildings adjacent to train-lines in the middle of the night while the rest of the world slept. I mean, how exciting would it be if it was legal?

The art itself can be quite saddening in it revelations. There is something almost heartbreaking about a lot of the old asylum photographs posted online. One can almost feel the tangible horror, the suffering experienced. A lot of the derelict buildings have become inhabited by those without homes. There is a tragedy in the way society and life moves on so quickly and the places, ideas and the people it leaves behind are quickly forgotten. There something quite dark and Fellig like about the intrusiveness of some of the images but again your sense of curiosity and adventure gets the better of you.

But what strikes me about this particular movement is the considerate natures of those involved, the dedication to leaving things how they were found, support for each other within the online community as each strives to learn the craft of photography through practice and debate. The way they refer to there online postings as reports, implying that they see themselves as investigative journalists or chroniclers of the a fast decaying past. Some of the postings contain not only photographs and tags but essays of historical background and data concerning the sites visited which implies that they see themselves as historians of sorts also. They way each project is documented so thoroughly. I just think its great. In a way its ironic, the kids are capturing there parents past as a lot of these buildings have been closed longer than some of these kids have been alive.

I’m really impressed by the foresight of those involved to mix adventure and curiosity with a professional commitment to documenting there subject as thoroughly and as creatively as they can. Its quite inspiring.

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