In a connected chain of events which began with me spending time in London last week, coming back to Tokyo and watching a documentary on the England’s capital city called The London Perambulator I discovered Deep Topography, also known as Psychogeography or Cryptoforestry. The documentary follows an eccentric English writer and researcher called Nick Papadimitriou as he goes on a series of what he refers to as his ‘Long Walks’. These can last anywhere between one hour and a full day, and often take place in one of Nick’s preferred locales, almost always on the suburbs, fringes and hinterlands of London. The preoccupation of deep topography is not with finding conventional beauty in and around our built environments but with deriving stimulation from appreciating the overlooked and anonymous corners of our cities and examining the functional areas where mankind, nature, and necessity overlap.
It was through this documentary that I came to understand why I find Tokyo to be so stimulating and rewarding as a place to live and explore. For those who have become deluded with the beaten track of the world’s maintream heritage sites and historical architecture, Tokyo provides a veritable goldmine of deep topographical rapture, providing you are prepared to get lost in its streets.
If you have the opportunity, I seriously recommend seeing the documentary as it also features Will Self and Iain Sinclair. Next time you’re out with your camera taking pictures of bleak industrial landscapes, water treatment works or unremarkable suburban vistas you might feel vindicated.
There’s a new social networking site for sharing your photowalks called SANPO built by one man in Tokyo, Gueorgui Tcherednitchenko. Although I haven’t signed up myself yet, I’m planning to, and I’m very supportive of anyone trying to launch a web app off their own bat. I also think this site would be genuinely useful for me as a new way to share the photos I take and plot them geographically. I’ve totally abandoned flickr these days it seems, and I really don’t feel like uploading them to facebook, so I’d all but given up on sharing my photos, and this had caused me to stop taking my camera out as much as I used to. Sites like this give you an audience and that tends to give you impetus to upload. Take this site for example. I wouldn’t have visited half the places I have in Tokyo and I wouldn’t know half as much about it if I didn’t have this blog to encourage me to do so. The service is still evolving, but why not signup and upload some pictures? It’s not just limited to Tokyo!