Place Hacking

Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints

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Word is going around about a new breed of adventurer for the 21st century; a modern explorer who thrives on the thrill of seeing what others do not see, let alone even know exists. They explore urban spaces that are somehow abandoned or banned from the public, like subway tunnels, uncompleted buildings, famous monuments, wartime bomb shelters, decaying shipwrecks, sewers and the forbidden rooftops of skyscrapers. They are set to explore new and different places in an ever discovered and overcrowded world, all the while making a statement against the authorities who close off a vast amount of space from them.

This leisure-time pursuit is known as place hacking and it became popular for alternative adventurers starting in the UK and the USA, namely in Scotland, London and New York City, but other places such as Paris and lately North Korea have developed into highly frequented sites for discovery as well.

„The idea is to get as close as possible to the edge without getting cut, or at least not too deeply“, is an attitude described as „edgework“ by the American author Hunter S. Thompson, and every place hacker follows that statement. They live for the fulfillment one finds in pushing boundaries.

Just starting a google search on the topic, one name always comes up: Moses Gates. He has published his first book Hidden Cities: My Journey into the Secret World of Urban Exploration in the spring of 2013, a book that allows a fascinating glimpse into a life of ignoring „Do Not Enter“ and „No Trespassing“ signs. It covers magnificent cities spanning all five continents, from New York, over Paris, to São Paulo, Cairo and Moscow. Moses Gates is among those early on urban explorers like Jeff Chapman, Bradley Garrett and Steve Duncan, who all prefer to sight-see a city from above and below the regular tour routes.

As it is the case for most urban explorers, Moses Gates’ hobby of hacking places is combined with a passion for photography, which leads to breathtaking documentation of the unseen around the world, as featured in his book.

see also Undercity

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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