The Nor

November 7, 2014


For the Hayward Gallery’s MIRRORCITY exhibition, I undertook a series of journeys around London, an investigation into paranoia, electromagnetism, and infrastructure, which I call The Nor.

The journeys are documented with essays, photographs and other material published online. The essays can be found on the Nor site, the photographs on Flickr.

November 7th: All Cameras Are Police Cameras

The first walk partially tracks the London Congestion Charge Zone. I photographed surveillance cameras and was threatened with arrest. I’d been reading Jonathan Crary’s 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep and Eyal Weizman’s Before and after: Documenting the architecture of disaster, and listening to a lot of Black Metal.

December 8th: Living in the Electromagnetic Spectrum

The second journey tracks the infrastructure of air navigation, from air traffic control installations to covert spy planes. I did get threatened with violence again, but I also got a little bit scared by what I was investigating. This essay was brought to you by books on the history of espionage (Richard Aldrich’s GCHQ, James Bamford’s Body of Secrets, Peter Wrights’s Spycatcher), Zipcar and BBC Radio 4.

January 4th: Low Latency

The third journey follows the path of high-speed microwave links from the London Stock Exchange’s datacentre in Slough, to the City of London, and out the other side of the city to the New York Stock Exchange’s datacentre in Basildon. It was deep in the winter and I cycled nearly a hundred miles while listening to podcasts and getting quietly furious about economic inequality, having spent a lot of time on the websites of Ofcom and Alexandre Laumonier.

There is also a brief epilogue on the themes of development and surveillance.

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