Urban Explorers: Quests for Myth, Mystery & Meaning by Bradley Garrett

Urban exploration, sometimes called UE, UrbEx or infiltration, has been described as an interior tourism that allows the curious-minded to discover a world of behind-the-scenes sights’.

(Ninjalicious 2005, p3)



Tim Edensor (MMU) [See British Industrial Ruins website and book]

Caitlin Desilvey (University of Exeter)

David Pinder (Queen Mary, University of London)

Hayden Lorrimer (University of Glasgow)

Alistair Bonnett (Newcastle University)



“The brute materiality of a ruin”

The tactilities and sensation of the materials.

Anti-authoritarian streak. Out on a limb against ideas of how we use space.

The desire to explore.

“There’s always an element of revulsion”. Sense of threat.

East End as a site for social reformers. Bill Bunge 1960s early 1970s explorations in Detroit. Collaboration using Geographic tools.

A fascination with landscape and place.

Going where others have not ventured. A sense of place. From own or others past. Connecting to real feelings, real memories.

Finding gaps and cracks. A radical edge. Creating new community. Doing stuff together. Walking as an important aspect of the dialectic of rambling.

Robert Sullivan – “grabbing the Empire State Building and lifting it up to reveal the underground systems. Thinking downwards and thinking upwards = a vertical orientation.”

Zoom right out then zoom right in.

Childhood: getting older and feeling they have lost something, or never had something.

How to get out of the ‘transparent space’ of surveillance and constantly being watched? Zones off the map. Just ‘going off’ like kids.

They are not ‘overdetermined’ places. Not smoothed over. Not predictable.

Room for imagination. Decay allows the new.

Presenting of the past.

Exploration as a visceral experience.

Dredging up local histories.

The continuing mutation of ruins.

Spectral geographies: haunted spaces, ghosts, traces, the immaterial, strange signs, absent present, the uncanny.



Bunge, Bill, 1969. The First Years of the Detroit Geographical Expedition: A Personal Report. Detroit Society for Human Exploration.

Granick, Harry, 1991. Underneath New York. Fordham University Press.

Macpherson, Hannah, 2009. Touch in the Countryside: Memory and Visualization Through the Feet in The Senses and Society 4(2).

Urban Exploration Resource, 2009.


See also: Gareth Rees Psychogeography blog