I recorded this audio of Nick Papadimitriou talking about his practice of Deep Topography last April when in the finishing stages of the editing of The London Perambulator. It’s lain untouched since, a rainy Sunday prompting me to have a tinker with it.
Great panel discussion after the screening of the London Perambulator at the Free Word Centre last night in the London International Documentary Festival. Nick Papadimitriou and I were joined by Anna Minton, writer and journalist, author of ‘Ground Control’; Dr Fran Tonkiss, director of the LSE Cities Programme; Prof. Matthew Gandy, director of the UCL Urban Laboratory; and Patrick Hazard, director of the LIDF.
There seemed to be a consensus amongst the experts on the panel that psychogeography was dead – in part killed off by its adoption by academia (I still, romantically perhaps, cling on to the idea that it has a role to play in our understanding of the built environment as it is experienced). There was also agreement that with Deep Topography, Nick was pursuing a different path altogether with an emphasis on the experience of topography and a non-programmatic approach to exploring the suburban realm (or Stockbroker Belt as I think Nick would prefer to term it).
Deep Topographer Nick Papadimitriou reads in a field near Mill Hill for a reading of the Resonance fm show Tunnel Vision. Shot on a Sony Ericsson phone
Listen to Tunnel Vision on www.resonancefm.com 104.4fm
“… this apparently alienated zone is the new Britain, a pointer to the real future facing this country. Developments in Fulham or Muswell Hill will have no bearing on what lies ahead. But what happens between the M3 and the M4 will define the character of Britain for the next half century.”
J G Ballard, Tate magazine Issue 24, Spring 2001
With the London Perambulator now out in the world thoughts inevitably turn to future projects. I’ve started work on one already, with another in discussion. There will also be the usual pitches to the Channels. But I know that there will be another film with Nick, there almost has to be. The first walks we did together in 2005 hinted towards a much bigger project than The Perambulator could fulfill – that has merely prepared the ground, created a context. All I can see for now is Nick wandering through the Lea Valley Industrial Estate at Edmonton with the brief to ‘engage’ with people as much as the infrastructure and identify the phenomena that Ballard is taking about, isolate the virus creeping through the crumbling industrial fringe of the city, the zones of distribution and re-consumption, disposal and transit – before it’s too late.
Short clip from the Q&A that I did with Nick Papadimitriou, subject of the documentary – recorded at Housmans Bookshop, Kings Cross, London following a screening of the film.
The London Perambulator looks at the city we deny and the future city that awaits us. Leading London writers and cultural commentators Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Russell Brand explore the importance of the liminal spaces at the city’s fringe, it’s Edgelands, through the work of enigmatic and downright eccentric writer and researcher Nick Papadimitriou – a man whose life is dedicated to exploring and archiving areas beyond the permitted territories of the high street, the retail park, the suburban walkways.
For more information go to http://londonperambulator.wordpress.com
I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks due to a week spent in Italy, out of the range of internet. I also found myself linguistically intimidated by the landscape such was it’s beauty – not just in the standardised bucolic sense but in the passifying effect on the soul. The same thing happened when I rounded off a 7 month stint in the flat industrial plain of Emilia Romangna with two weeks in Tuscany. Over the preceding months I’d spewed out splenetic prose nightly – to the extent that I had the first draft of a book (that I plan to publish shortly on Lulu). Once in Tuscany the words dried up – it was all swooning olive groves and rhapsodic lunches.
I’ve also been pre-occupied with tomorrow night’s screening of the Nick Papadimitriou film at the Whitechapel Gallery in the East End Film Festival. There will also be an ‘Edgelands’ panel afterwards with Will Self, Iain Sinclair, Andrea Philips and me. What amazing company to find oneself in on a stage in the newly reburbed Gallery.
Aldgate East is one of the parts of London pregnant with memory for me. The distinctive smell of the tube platform hurtles me back to 89-92, City Poly, in various states of inebriation. I never once ventured inside the Whitechapel in those years. And now The London Perambulator makes its world premiere there.