Visual Essay – Mapping the Streets

August 1, 2011 by  

“London is over-lit, its streets are monitored by CCTV and the avian police, its inhabitants monitor themselves using webcams, digicams and mobile-phone cameras; yet the nocturnal city can never be wholly regulated. […] 3am is the dark heart of the city, when the carefully repressed anxieties, aspirations and dreams of its emotionally parched inhabitants can no longer be contained”. (Night Haunts: A Journey Through the London Night, Sukhdev Sandhu).

The streets carry a note of elusive, disturbing, electrifying mystery that is not concealed by its supposed complete regulation. The layers underneath, piling up little by little, create a dense bundle of voices and meanings to be heard and interpreted. The street is a site to enjoy and play, a site to survey and describe, to contest, claim and reinscribe. The street stands for the fortuitous and the transient, for wandering, mobility, arrival and departure, a proper metaphor for the travelling poetics of the postmodern migrant condition.

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