Non-Places

Marc Augé, (2009), Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity, Verso Books

I found this very hard to read and I’m still fairly sure I haven’t grasped everything he is saying here. I was intrigued by the idea of the traveller passing through a place who can only get a fleeting idea of that place. This is just one manifestation of a ‘non-place’ that Augé describes but it is this manifestation I tried to explore here. Augé describes one difference between place and non-place thus: “As anthropological places create the organically social, so non-places create solitary contractuality”.

I wanted to see what I could do with this on a train journey I was going on. The journey was on a local train between Lichfield and Birmingham but with several other small stops in between. This is not a journey I had been on before and had not heard of most of the stops in between. I was alone in a carriage with a seat next to a window that would be nearest the platform at each stop. I took a photograph of each stop at the exact point the train stopped so that what was there was my only experience of being motionless in these places. The photographs themselves are of a place seen through a train carriage window, with all the flaws that this approach gives. Each stop was no more than a few seconds so I had little time to do much more than point and click. In addition the windows on this particular train have a slightly warped quality that makes them seem as though there is water running down inside the glass. These then are all places I could only get a distorted view of from a separated space

I have done nothing to the photographs in post-production as that would seem to defeat the point. I have presented them here as a slide show as this is effectively how I experienced these places.

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