Saturday, 12 July 2014

Subversive Urbanism

I came across this blog at a film showing of Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. Or rather, I came across the blog's author, Phil Wood. Funnily enough, I'd seen him give a presentation more than a year before at a Leeds Psychogeographers event, otherwise known as urban walking. The title of his Tumblr site, Subversive Urbanism, reflects his interest in this field, and surveys some of the lesser known architectural sites across Europe, Asia, Latin America; as he notes in the introduction, 'most of us actually live in places that you’ve probably never heard of'. The images Phil posts are striking, often haunting and utterly science-fictional, particularly those from former Soviet countries. This example (see below) is a Yugoslav war memorial, an enigmatic concrete structure, upturned to the sky like an alien bloom or an extraterrestrial transmitter.

Stone Flower, a monument to the victims of Jasenovac
Little wonder, then, that I should see him at a Tarkovsky film. Stalker itself is a meditation on inner and outer space, with most of the action taking place in the mysterious Zone, a site fabled to have the power to grant peoples' deepest desires. Phil has visited many of the places where films like this were shot; let's hope his travels through urban space will continue to generate memorable images and insights into architectural and urban endeavours all over the world.

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