London Nights includes work from your series Metropole - how would you describe it?
Metropole is an attempt to emulate my experience of feeling increasingly alienated from the city I grew up in. I’ve spent most of my life in London and when I was first becoming interested in photography I would spend hours wandering through the city, photographing it, in the process also becoming much better acquainted with its present and its past. Today I see much of what I love about the city being swept away by a huge glut of demolition and construction taking place under the guises of ‘development’ and ‘regeneration’, but which in my eyes are actually more a form of degeneration which is stripping away the essential character of London and forcing Londoners out of the city. This is in turn driven to a large degree by international flows of finance, and a class of developers and speculators who see London property and in particular housing as a financial asset rather than an essential human need.
My response was to walk the city by night, photographing these new constructions and attempting to make viewers see them as threatening, disorientating and alien in the way that I do. To heighten this sense of disorientation I double or triple expose each scene, layering buildings over buildings in order to create visually plausible but actually impossible structures. Visually Metropole is influenced by early cinema, particularly the city symphony genre which emerged in the early twentieth century and eulogised urban living. In my case what I am trying to produce is more of a requiem for a city lost to aggressive redevelopment. Aesthetically Metropole is also influenced by post-war Japanese photography, for example by Shomei Tomatsu and Hiroshi Hamaya, who in a different sense were witnessing and documenting the transformation of their society at the hands of an outside power.
"I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been threatened while working on Metropole"