Urban exploring entails the exploration, discovering and often photographing of urban features. Often urban exploration gives greater focus on more offbeat areas of human civilization that are found in both modern and ancient urban areas. According to Garrett (2012), the activities that surround urban exploration are of far greater scope than the exploration of ancient and abandoned buildings. He notes that, on the contrary, urban exploration involves a view of the world in a manner that every window, door, gate, ladder, path, hole and grate is a possible portal for more adventure for the urban explorer (Mott & Roberts, 2014).
Aspects of urban exploration include urban spelunking, reality hacking, draining and hacking. Additionally, the whole idea of urban exploration wraps around adventures in manmade structures, especially in our cities. Further, urban exploration can take places in the suburbs of the cities or the urban centers depending on the curiosity of the urban explorer or their objectives as they undertake urban exploration (Bishop & Dave, 2001). Ideally, urban exploration can take place in anywhere whereby an urban dwelling or a city is characterized by mans existence now or in the past (Garrett, 2012). Various methods can be employed bib urban explorers to enable them to get a wider or a more detailed view of an urban center or a city.
More often than not, various activities of urban dwelling are centered on architectural structures. In urban exploration, the explorer thrives to document, photographically or in words their experiences in various urban centers or cities. However, there are often widely shared objectives among urban explorers (Garrett, 2012). For instance, forgotten places in the fabric of urban centers often comprise the main focus of explorers.
Additionally, urban exploration focuses on various out of the scene spaces in urban areas and cities. Urban exploration can be characterized as an artistic practice often held in high regard by cultural practitioners and artists. Urban exploration is characterized by activities such as mappings, photography, walks, and games which are discussed in the context of psycho geography (Mott & Roberts, 2014). In conclusion, urban exploration, hugely involves accessing and exploring urban areas that are restricted to the general public. A broader view of urban exploration includes other features of urban centers (Bishop & Dave, 2001). The following are common areas of urban exploration.
- Civil buildings
- Industrial buildings
- Utilities and infrastructure
- Residential structures
Who are urban explorers?
In history, urban exploration has often been associated with criminality. In line with this focus, some activities that surround urban exploration such as photography and mapping have been tied to criminal intents such as those of terrorists. On the contrary, urban exploration entails investigation of historical significance of various features in urban places or cities. Additionally, urban exploration tries to unearth the significance of various locations to various people, especially the dwellers of the urban centers (Garrett, 2012). Notably, urban explorers are expected among many other things to help preserve the various urban structures they explore.
The objectives of urban explorers
The objectives of urban explorers are varied depending on the explorers. However, there are several shared objectives in urban exploration such as psycho geographic photography. Most urban exploration curiosity is driven by the desire to know what exists in certain places. Notably, various urban exploration ventures do not involve photography (Pinder, 2005). Alternatively, various urban explorers just wish to document such places. Further, whether for documentation, photography or otherwise, the objectives of urban exploration surround appreciation of celebrated past structures, often manmade. In line with this regard, such places are usually rare and even temporary (Bishop & Dave, 2001). With this respect, various urban explorers purpose to document various structures of historical significance to various societies.
Urban exploration legalities and disclaimer
The principles of urban exploration provide for utmost honesty in the undertaking of the practice. Urban exploration calls for utmost respect for both the property and the people that urban explorers come across. With this regard, there various unethical activities that have marred the urban exploration such as deaths and injuries.
The urban exploration exercise entails series danger of injuries and health hazards. For instance, there have been reported cases of long term health effects, even leading to death, resulting from the exploration of asbestos filled buildings. In line with this focus, urban exploration calls for utmost caution while undertak8ing the exercise (Garrett, 2012). Additionally, there have been cases related to lung cancer that stem from the exploration of various places that are laden with causative agents.
Urban exploration in various places across the world requires permission to access various preserved places (Fraser, 2012). However, there are other various areas of urban exploration interest that require no permission to access. With respect to such places, there are security implications surrounding exploration of such areas, since no security is provided by the permitting body. Areas of urban exploration interest that require permission are often accompanied by security provision. Additionally, there laws of trespassing that usually vary from place to the other. As a result, urban explorers ought to be aware of trespassing laws as they undertake their missions. The underlying implications for trespassing may be grave depending on the area of urban exploration (Pinder, 2005).
As noted earlier, urban exploration has been associated with various illegal activities such as terrorism. Therefore it is advisable that an explore bear in mind the legal risks involved in expiration of various places as well as the consequences that accompany unauthorized access to various places of urban exploration interest (Pinder, 2005). Notably, the most common implications include warning to vacate property, confiscation of camera of the documentation material, arrest and charge with breach of national security among many others, depending on the region (Paiva, 2013). In line with this focus, cases in the past suggest that some explorers have had to make a decision on whether the risk is worth the acts.
Resources in urban exploration
Knowledge about areas for urban exploration is available on various platforms. The most common source of information on potential areas for urban exploration is available in the internet on various websites (Fraser, 2012). Additionally, there are various books and journals that have been written on urban exploration. For instance, one of the most common sources of information on the potential areas of urban exploration is the Urban Explorer Resource. The Urban Explorer Resource has always been a very significant source of urban exploration guide to amateur urban explorers (Romany, 2010).
The source facilitates researched and explored locations for potential areas for urban exploration. Additionally, the forum facilitates organization and meets ups with explorers from various parts of the world. Urban explorers can provide useful information on areas for exploration interests, the legal requirements associated with the areas and possible dangers to expect. Further, the resource enables urban explorers to choose the right equipments for data collection in the areas of interest for urban exploration (Romany, 2010).
Flicker is also a very highly regarded resource with respect to urban exploration destinations and additional information. The site provides to interested parties potential areas fiord urban exploration that is found around them. Flicker provides images and keys words that link the interested urban explores to potential sites for urban exploration. Additionally, newspapers are good sources of information on urban exploration. The newspaper provides information on safe locations and legal requirements that urban explorers need to know before they explore certain areas (Mott & Roberts, 2014). Further, the newspapers offer hints on various structures that are on preservation, demolition or renovation that may be of interest to the urban explorers.
It is recommendable that urban explorers and potential urban explorers do comprehensive research on various places of interest before they decide to explore the areas. It not only enable them observe safety measures, but also to abide by the legal requirements required. Such research acquits the urban explorer or a potential urban explorer with policies that surround exploration of their places of interests.
Tools required for urban exploration
Urban expiration may require several tools to make the exercise safe, unique and memorable. Therefore, there are certain tools that are required to enhance safety in urban exploration. In line with this regard, a respirator with functional filters is required when undertaking urban exploration (Duncan, 2011). A respirator enables the explorer to not only absorb hazardous asbestos, but also avoid inhaling other toxic gases that may be present in the area of exploration. Additionally, urban explores need a Geiger counter, so that they do not suffer radiation burns (Rowsdower, 2011). An accurate Geiger counter enables the explorer to read radiation levels in certain exploration areas.
Further, urban explorers require cameras and other related accessories. With this respect, light cameras are recommendable to enable the urban explorers to capture interesting moments that may be subject to future analysis. However, the explorers are encouraged to carry as light as possible luggage. Therefore, small cameras are encouraged instead of large cameras that may require extra accessories such as stands (Rowsdower, 2011). Other additional accessories besides cameras are additional camera battery to facilitate the capture of all epic scenes.
Other tools that are required during urban exploration are flashlights. Various exportable urban structures are not well lit. Therefore, an urban explorer may be required to carry a flashlight to enable them to increase safety and view the structures clearly. Additionally, urban explorers mat need to carry water, food and clothing. Urban exploration is characterized by small accidents such as falls in unseen water puddles. As result, urban explorers are advised to carry additional clothes to deal with such cases (Shim, et al, 2005). When dressing for urban exploration, explorers are advised to be conscious of temperatures because of some poorly ventilated structures.
Safety in urban exploration
Among the most important considerations when choosing a place for urban exploration is safety. There various risk involved in urban exploration. Such risks include health hazards and dangerous animals, fellow explorers or local inhabitants. In line with this focus, asbestos is one of the most hazardous substances that can be encountered in urban exploration.
Asbestos is prevalently present in old buildings having been used as insulation materials on pipes. Additionally, asbestos cab ne found in asbestos tiles and alternatively in concrete bricks as fused fibers. In the exploration of areas with asbestos remains, a recommendable practice is to wear a respirator that is fitted with functional filters (Shim, et al, 2005).
- Lead paint:
Lead paint is very harmful to human beings if ingested. As a result, urban explorers are cautioned against eating of paints in structures.
Various areas for urban exploration interest such as ancient watch factories are not safe places to visit. In line with this focus, there is notable presence of radiation that hails from the residual radium. With this regard, the urban explorers are advised to carry a Geiger counter that reveals radiation levels (Shim, et al, 2005). The Geiger counter should be checked for accuracy before being used.
- Unsafe flooring:
Various areas of urban exploration interest are ruins resulting from demolition or fire damages. As a result, there is the resultant weakened concrete or debris that can pose mortal danger to urban explorers. Therefore, urban explorers are cautioned against careless walks on susceptible weak floors (Lichtensteiger & Baccini, 2008).
- Enterprising criminals:
Urban exploration adventures often occur in isolated ancient structures. As a result, there is the possibility of encountering robbers, car jackets and even rapists. In line with this focus, the urban explorers are encouraged to travel in numbers to the urban exploration areas. Alternatively, the urban explorers are encouraged to get insurance covers for their travels.
- Flash flooding:
Urban explorers are advised to avoid sewers at all costs in order to avert the possibility of flash floods. Flashfloods are very dangerous and can lead to death or serious health implications since the waters are not treated. Additionally, urban explorers are advised to be on the lookout for warning signs that may enable them to avoid flaps floods (Lichtensteiger & Baccini, 2008).
- Fall hazards:
Urban exploration on rooftops and loose floors call for cautionary measures from the explorer. In line with this regard, explores are advised to avoid careless walks on structures that seem to have been destroyed by fires or are seemingly loose. Fall hazards are very common cases in urban exploration.
Summary of recommendations
- Urban exploration should never be done alone due to safety concerns
- Urban explorers are cautioned against walking or crawling into areas they are not able to see clearly.
- Urban explorers are advised not to insert their heads, figures, limbs or any parts of their bodies into openings or holes that they cannot clearly see
- Urban explorers are cautioned against climbing unsteady structures or walking on roofs that do not look well supported.
- Urban explorers are advised to check the open ability of doors before they let them shut behind them (Lichtensteiger & Baccini, 2008)
- Urban explorers are advised not to smell or taste unusual substances in their area of exploration.
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Garrett, B. L. (2012). Place hacking: Tales of urban exploration (Doctoral dissertation, Royal Holloway, University of London).
Lichtensteiger, T., & Baccini, P. (2008). Exploration of urban stocks. detail,5(6), 16.
Mott, C., & Roberts, S. M. (2014). Not everyone has (the) balls: Urban exploration and the persistence of masculinist geography. Antipode, 46(1), 229-245.
Paiva, T. (2013). The art of urban exploration. Chronicle Books.
Pinder, D. (2005). Arts of urban exploration. cultural geographies, 12(4), 383-411.
Romany, W. G. (2010). The beauty in decay: the art of urban exploration.
Rowsdower, Z. (2011). Fresh rot: urban exploration and the preservation of decay. Journal of the University of Manitoba Anthropology Students’ Association, 29.
Shim, D., Chung, H., Kim, H. J., ; Sastry, S. (2005, August). Autonomous exploration in unknown urban environments for unmanned aerial vehicles. InProc. AIAA GN Conference.
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