Conceptual: Exploring Non-Place [Abandoned]
by Beauchamp Art
Early on in this unit, I decided I wanted to explore something slightly separate to the technologically enthused theme and aesthetic of the rest of my works, and for this I endeavoured to take a series of photos and produce a short film involving non-places and such products of hypermodernity.
For this I set out to explore two connected ‘non-places’, an underground car park and a shopping centre’s fire escape – which I had accidentally come across in a previous exploration of the local commercial landscape.
I did go to the said locations (that I shall not specify there exact locations, as will be explained momentarily), and took a number of photos and filmed in short bursts around the car park, skimming across the roofs of the glistening motor vehicles, strafing between them, following the movement of cars around the space, turning in corners, and so forth. I was intending to compile this footage together into a short film, around 4 minutes accompanied by a soundscape made from the raw atmospheric sounds combined with reprocessed audio, to make a looping film that would allude to some sort of narrative, almost happening, like an elongated opening sequence to a movie, but never going anywhere.
The second section of filming involved exploring the labyrinthine fire escape of the shopping complex, taking photos of the concrete interior and peculiar structures within, as well as filming walking around this space. Both from a first-person point-of-view perspective, and using the trip to film myself wandering endless around the concrete corridors, and monotonous repetitions of the area, going through doors but again, never going anywhere. Essentially, a further expansion of the non-place ‘waiting room’ metaphor, though with my digital themes in mind, I thought of it like an endless loading screen on a computer, becoming a functionless place. Like the footage in the car park, I was then going to make a music-video length film of around 3 or 4 minutes, possibly with a slightly more eerie and nightmarish soundscape.
However, due to the previously mention maze-like nature of the terrain, and a growing feeling of claustrophobia, I found myself lost, and after passing one or two people [the place was practically empty of life, though the sounds and smells of the shops and establishments on the other side of closed doors. The place was not entirely dehumanised, though did feel somewhat ghoulish] I had to ask someone to direct me on how to get out. I was then escorted into the main shopping area through the fire escape doors, and taken to the head of security. It was then explained to me that I might have to delete the photos and footage I had taken due to security reasons. After they reviewed a number of my photos, it was decided that I would have to delete the lot [the number of photos of the security cameras probably did not help my position] due to potentially safety concerns. I understood their position, and regretfully obliged.
With a formatted memory card, I went on my way. Having lost all of my images and a few hours of my time, having to rethink my approach. I did not return to this theme or subject matter so explicitly for this project [nor did I revisit to the location; besides re-photographing a few photographs of another car-park on my mobile phone camera] though I would like to in the future. However, in the future I may have to ask permission to take such photos [or learn to be more discrete – walking around a restricted area with a big bag, DSLR and tripod is not exactly the key to remaining nonchalant].
It was a bizarre experience anyhow, and though I have nothing to show for it, the exploration still seemed like a beneficial exercise (as well as being somewhat performative) and relates to some of the ideas surrounding the privacy of information that remains of interest to me, though usually more in terms of intellectual property and personal privacy, rather than institutional regulations.