Urban Exploration Misinterpreted

Urban explorer and urban ethnographer Bradley L. Garrett argues that the act of urban exploration has become increasingly misunderstood, and misinterpreted through the lens of a recent popular fascination with ruin fetishism.
June 2, 2011, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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He also argues against law enforcement treating people with active interests in the workings of cities as terrorists.

"Over the past few years, urban exploration has been the subject of numerous pop-cultural speculations and attempts at corporate colonization, ranging from a new line of Converse shoes to amateur documentaries to an iPhone app (hundreds of abandoned locations just $2.99!). Most are hoping, and largely failing, to capitalise, perversely, on the current financial crisis by dressing up dereliction as something marketable and hip, especially where it can be transmuted into "art". The tropes are multitudinous-endless Flickr photos of guys in their mid-twenties venturing from their suburb to "explore" something dangerous, some husk of a building left behind in the wake of economic devastation where they "get in touch with its history".

Those of us involved in the urban exploration community seem to now be fragmenting into camps roughly dividing those who are largely happy to play up to the latest media attempt at exploitation, self-publishing bad books and making Cafe Press t-shirts emblazoned with inside jokes that you clearly won't get unless you have photographed peeling paint in an abandoned asylum, and those who are risking bodily harm and incarceration to push the political potentialities of the practice to their breaking points, doing the types of infiltration that Chapman would have encouraged and been involved with."

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Published on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 in domus
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