Urban Exploring, Sub-culture and the Internet
The most peculiar aspect of Urban Exploring is that it has existed for some time, but only emerged as ‘something’ with the invention of the Internet. Interestingly enough, the Internet did not function as the main interest of this group of people, but merely a tool which everyone discovered each other. With the explosion of the Internet, there was also the explosion of many terminologies as to what this sub-culture could be called (refer to Venn-diagram in appendix page 20).
As I stated in my introduction, studies in Urban Exploring are far and few. Given this, I was forced to be resourceful and draw upon related academic works. It quickly became visible that easy parallels to graffiti sub-culture could be drawn. Much like exploring, identity was a central theme. With exploring, identity was something intangible, but in graffiti culture it is physical and tangible. In order to draw direct ties, a little more stretching was needed: I decided to use urban exploring photographs as something tangible to compare to ‘tagging’ (a graffiti mural).
Both of these groups function as subcultures, highly fuelled and members seek to attain higher statuses within their peer group. “There’s no financial gain, I suppose getting the respect of total strangers is payment enough really” (Macdonald 2001, 65). On top of this, they frequently inter-mingle: graffiti present in abandoned locations for example. In present day, sharing graffiti has now also reached the Internet and photographing that too can be equally challenging as a ruin. Both include issues of light, space, and mood, and feature rebellion as one of the main components of its members.
Urban Exploring is just a hobby [at the end of the day]. It is strange, and it is most certainly not for everyone. However, it is immensely interesting, and a goldmine of potential research. While I did my best to put forth as much as I could with a time constraint and as much information as available, there could be so much more.
If I had more time, I could examine the pursuit of identity, presentation of self, gender and gender roles, the body in terms of exploring, and more. But I didn’t, and I had to target something in order to meet my timeline. Within the context of this paper, I do feel I represented the sub-culture correctly and provided a springboard for future investigations. In this urban industrialized world it is most important we break away from accepting our surrounding and assess them closer and in more depth. We do not need to be afraid to physically explore the past, because in turn we can discover ourselves along the way.
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