U r b a n a l i t y

Image and Word | Space and City

My home is in the suburbs of a city.  Perth, Western Australia.  One-and-half-million people, on the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean.  Not a big city, but a city all the same.  It is claimed to be the most remote mainland capital in the world, with 3,000 kilometres of desert behind and 10,000 kilometres of ocean in front.  New Zealanders claim that it’s Auckland, Hawaiians will tell you it’s Honolulu–but it depends on your criteria.  No matter what, Perth is a long way from anywhere else.  The closest city is Adelaide; Canberra, the Australian capital, is 3094 kilometres away; the Indonesian capital of Jakarta is only 3010 kilometres away, Denpasar in Bali is 2590.

Living in such an isolated place, it may seem strange that I am fiercely attracted to cities.

It’s not that I dislike landscapes.  I love being in wild places, particularly at the edge of a wild ocean when heavy weather is beating in.  But I can’t think of many images that come close to representing the experience of being in a landscape.

The city, however, is a different matter.

All cities are a cacophony of movement and noise.  Change is everywhere.  Traffic, people, buildings, streets, freeways, alleys, demolition sites, high-rise buildings, locals, immigrants–all add their own richness and vibrance to the city experience.

Our experience of the city is a fragmented experience.  We piece together our understanding of the city from driving along freeways, being stuck in traffic, memories of work and social outings, snatches of conversation, sounds and smells, momentary images.  While photography can never hope to replicate the experience of a city, the very nature of the medium–mobile, fragmented, instantaneous, ephemeral–is also the essence of the city experience.

My photographs are city photographs; my words are city words.  Together they are a personal exploration of my engagement with cities.  They are an attempt to understand the richness of the urban experience, to try and fathom what it is that makes these places so fascinating.

The blog/website is divided into two separate sections: images and words.  Each can be looked at separately, but I like to think that they complement each other, because sometimes words can better explain an idea, at other times a series of pictures.

Text and Images © Stuart Peel 2015

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