What if...

...there were a hidden world of signs, spread everywhere throughout the city but invisible to the uninitiated? What if there were a secret world, hidden just below the surface of our 'reality', accessible only through the knowledge of certain points or 'nodes' or junctures?

The 'hidden world' or 'hidden city' is an absurdist creation, a dark fantasy or a madness-fuelled illusion, yet also a grand metaphor for the world we construct daily in our interactions with others. The parallel world is a meta-narrative, allowing one to explore through it themes and ideas relating to urban experience, the reading (or misreading) of signs, to issues of personal identity and privacy, to the political uses of language, to social paranoia, to the human impulses towards the twin poles of mysticism and rationality and the conflicts this engenders.

The notion of this hidden dimension must be presented quite seriously, almost deadpan, for it is a serious idea, and perhaps even a real possibility, considering how little we really know about the construction of physical space and the possibilities of time, and of our insatiable appetite for their exploration and reflection. This hidden city is all around us, always, just beyond the edge of our conscious vision, just outside the corner of our eye.

Not far below the surface [literal/ metaphorical] of our world there is a hidden world of myth and danger. Certain obscure points occur between the two, and one can cross over to the other side via these junctures. Our everyday 'reality' the world we inhabit, is festooned with signs and objects that tell us of this other world, but we are too ignorant, or too busy, to read them. If we only took the time and made the effort to look, to observe clearly, perhaps we could unlock the secret of the other world's existence, and with the help of the objects and signs revealed to us, enter and explore it.


• Movement in the city: how the city, its signs, its roads and architecture shape people's movement throughout it. Over time our moving bodies produce spatial forms, gouging out space in the city. Consider constraints and closed off areas of the city, e.g. the closed stations of the London Underground, the secret bunkers for the Royal family and the government, Royal Mail lines, sewers, etc.

• The explicit and the implicit: the relationship the public and private spheres of life, the domestic and the street, between our outward personalities (large) and our inner realm (small).

• Obsessive behaviour: obsessive observation of details, of misreadings of objects and events, of weaving mad narratives spun from paranoia, delusion and aberrance.

• Reading as a creative activity.

• Objects and us: how we relate to objects because of their scale, how intimately we are associated with the intimate.

• The duplicity of signs: how signs can be misread according to the experiences and beliefs of the viewer.

• Fluidity of meaning: meaning is a constant construct.

Reading List for the Project

Invisible Cities - Italo Calvino
Cosmos - Witold Gombrowicz
The Poetics of Space - Gaston Bachelard
Moscow Diary - Walter Benjamin
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/ Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
The Dictionary of Imaginary Places - Alberto Manguel & Giovanni Guadalupe
Breathing Cities: The Architecture of the Moment - Ed. Nick Barclay
Unlikely Stories, Mostly - Alastair Gray
The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien

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