We take it for granted
Modern cities nowadays are spatial and physical network constructed by urban facilities, institutions, ecological constructions, and infrastructures. Yet, it is also a body of social customs, ideologies and traditions and the humanities which shape the humanity and cultures of the cities. In other word, cities in contemporary world, are not only spatial zones with various organizations which geographically mobilize residents but the mental operating systems that are the product of rationalization of urban human nature. As Mark Fisher notes, “Capitalist realism…is more like a pervasive atmosphere, conditioning not only the production of culture but also the regulation of work and education, and acting as a kind of invisible barrier constraining thought and action.” In this case, capitalist realism is an invisible matrix which not only structures customs, values and cultures of society but also constrains our consciousness of capitalism by shaping an operating system of capitalist ideology and presents itself as empirical and ‘natural’ facts.
The ideology of urban capitalism, serving as ontology of the modern cities, is coded by a series of spatial, infrastructural apparatuses such as fragmental gentrification or hierarchy. It constructs an unconscious and seamless fantasy which governs and formulates human beings at the level of everyday life. City London here, is not a geographical, spatial space. Instead, it contains the ideological dimension of capitalist cityscape which shapes our unconsciousness and unawareness of capitalism at the level of everyday life. In other words, capitalist London with urban technologies is where we are living in as well as implies the virtual space of impossibility of confrontation.
Transport system in London, as one of the most ubiquitous facilities of the city, acts as one of the ‘witnesses’ which records urban planning and maps out fragmentation of the unconsciousness. Camden Town is famous for its counter-culture and subcultures where nourish punk, pubs and indie gigs, underground pubs for decades. It is the emblem of wildness, creativity and subculture. However, Camden Town is now facing gentrification just like other places in London. Developers and entrepreneurs are attempting to seek an area with rich cultures in order to creates spaces that are mixed with local creativities Also, they build up expensive flats which raises the values of surrounding property, pricing out small companies and even residents. Camden Town is thus not only in danger of gentrification and capitalization but been desecrating its local cranky nimbus. Surrounding by Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus, West End is the symbol of mainstream consumerism with flourished tourism and luxury fashion. These two areas describe the unconscious everyday life of experiencing fragmental gentrification. London bus no.88, from Camden Town to West End, has drew out the urban environment and infrastructures via transport apparatus. By shooting hundreds of pictures on the bus, I would like to use this everyday object to depict the outline of invisible atmosphere of gentrification, capitalist construction and the unavailable consciousness of citizen. London, as Rowan Moore said, it is a city ruled by money and eating itself with greed.
We take it for granted because we can’t see it.
Park, Robert E., Burgess Ernest W., Mckenzie Roderick, The City,(The University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London,1968).
Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: is there no alternative, (Zero Books: Winchester,2009).
Hannah Ewens,“Does anyone care Camden is Dying”,VICE, 17 January 2017,https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/78bnzd/does-anyone-care-that-camden-is-dying
Rowan Moore,”London: the city that ate itself”,The Guardian, 28 June 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/28/london-the-city-that-ate-itself-rowan-moore