06 January 2014

Dublin's Underthrow

The distinctive hand of SCIE/James Earley at last year's All-City Jam in the Tivoli
Tivoli Car Park, Dublin, 19th May, 2013
One of the joys of walking everywhere is that, if you walk slowly enough and remember to look up from the path in front of you from time to time, you occasionally stumble across the hidden and the wonderful. And if, like me, you always seem to have a camera with you, you might just remember to take a photograph of them.

China Miéville has a little chapbook, London's Overthrow, which is an extended essay of his meanderings through the city, his thoughts on its political, economic and socio-geography in the wake of the riots of 2011 and the looming shadow of the onrushing 2012 Olympics, and a collection of accompanying cameraphone pics that highlight in painful detail why (other) people use Instagram filters.

Best. My Lovely Horse. Tribute. Ever. Did I say "Best"? I meant "Most nightmarishly disturbing".
John Street, Dublin, 21st July, 2013
The title comes from a 19th Century drawing by Jonathan Martin, who in 1829 set fire to London's York Minister Cathedral and was committed to Bethlehem Royal Hospital (the asylum that gave the world the word "bedlam"), wherein he painted a number of apocalyptic scenes depicting the destruction of the city he set fire to, the most famous of which is the aforementioned London's Overthrow.

Slight less apocalyptic scenes are depicted in Miéville's frequently blurry cameraphone shots, or rather, they could be eschatological in nature but when viewed out of focus it is hard to tell (could be the apocalypse, could be Romford, the jury's still out). However clarity of image, for him, is not the end goal, his photos serve more as an aide-mémoire, as he writes:
"there's been a revolution in remembrance... one touch at the end of a sleepy phone call on your way home, you can freeze the halo from streetlamps, the occluded moon, night buses, cocoons shaking through brick cuts, past all-night shops. Right there in your pocket, a lit-up memory of now."
No idea who this is by, but if I had to hazard a guess I'd say the lad's name is Finbar
Richmond Villas, Dublin, 1st June, 2013
Miéville clearly loves his city, and while reading the essay shortly after moving there I found myself questioning, not for the first time, why I find it so hard to generate a similar emotion for Dublin. Like Miéville, I too am rarely without a camera or a cameraphone, but unlike him the end goal of any photo of mine is the photo itself, it stands alone as an object in its own right, divorced from the circumstances and environment that birthed it.

Surgically removing those moments of hidden beauty and embalming them forever in my own cabinet of digital curiosities, I have always viewed this as a symptom of my alienation from the city, not wishing to let its perpetual grey misery intrude upon my cropped and fabricated tableau of joy. This practice is, of course, simultaneously also a cause of my continuing alienation, a further loop in a cycle of detachment.

Detachment begets detachment begets detachment.

A little pointillism in the afternoon, from Mexican artist Kin-MX.
The Bernard Shaw, Dublin, 23rd June, 2013
All of which really serves as an excuse to post some shiny pics from various wanders through the backstreets of Dublin last year that I never got around to posting when it would have been slightly more relevant.

And if the rather nice and shiny high quality pics and purple prose here at Booming Back hasn't permanently dissuaded you from seeking out more of what passes for my occluded remembrance, you can always take a look at my Instagram account here, or follow me @unkiedave, if such is your want.

Unlike Miéville, my lit-up memory has a grainy filter on it.

A hidden miniature by Parisian street artist C215, tucked away on a Smithfield lamppost
Smithfield, Dublin, 17th May, 2013
You can read London's Overthrow, blurry pics and all online for free here, or go for the digested read at the New York Times here.

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