Exploring Obscure Places – Part 1 of 5

This is the first in a series of five on Urban Exploring. In this I detail my introduction and context.


Exploring a restricted, forgotten or condemned space is a peculiar hobby. While there is substantial material returned on

A fellow Urban Explorer taking photographs (Pete).

A fellow Urban Explorer taking photographs (Pete).

the Internet with the query ‘urban exploring’, it remains informal. Scholarly research and writing is nearly non-existent; there are only a handful of anthropological studies, largely constructed by insiders.

The intent of an explorer can vary, but there are some general categories. There are those who explore out of nostalgia (attempting to re-live the space as it may have been); those who break boundaries and explore outside what society deems as acceptable space; and on an entirely non-philosophical level, there are those who like the thrill (‘place hacking’). Before I began conducting interviews, I thought long and hard about how to address each issue and document some of the formalities and informalities of this strange sub-culture.


I must first confess that I too have been interested in exploring for many years, the last three of which have been represented though photographs I take. I have never really known what to think of this sub-culture myself, and have been searching for a reason to explore these ideas in greater depth.

I chose transgression as a title because of its polysemic qualities. In the simplest form, it addresses that urban explorers are sometimes in fact physically breaking the law. On another level, it explains that explorers break social boundaries and limits, transgressing them. Finally, in documenting these explorations, the result is often shocking to the senses: ‘transgressive art’.

That’s all for today. Stay tuned!


– Matt


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