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Simon Ball

On Getting Lost in the City

Being lost and disorientated is not seen as a good thing, yet losing oneself often is. At the same time, knowing exactly where we are, all of the time, is considered useful, but not being able to free oneself, to move into the unknown, seems somewhat oppressive. Is it still possible to get lost in the city? What are the implications of being unable to do so?

Inspired by walks through London, my work explores this idea of being lost. I see walking as a kind of anarchic act that goes against the fast paced nature of the city. Urban spaces are becoming ever more developed for automated travel and our experiences of them are constantly changing in response to digital technologies. To me, walking in the city provides a contrast to these developments, a mode of travel unmediated by machines.

I document journeys using a digital camera and/or sound, with a view to rebuilding the experiences in post production. In computer I try to visualise the relationship between mediated perspectives of the city and those of the pedestrian. I am particularly inspired by David Hockney’s joiners, in which he used multiple images to depict a subject or scene. By doing this Hockney was able to collapse space by representing different perspectives within a single image. The joiners also provided a sense of time, revealing the movement of the photographer and/or subject as the many photographs were taken. I’ve tried to distort this sense of time by bringing together elements from different places and making them appear as one entity.


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