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Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City

“Volatile and extraordinary ... a gonzo road trip.” – Robert Macfarlane, Guardian
What does it feel like to find the city’s edge, to explore its forgotten tunnels and scale unfinished skyscrapers high above the metropolis? Explore Everything reclaims the city, recasting it as a place for endless adventure.

Plotting expeditions from London, Paris, Berlin, Detroit, Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Bradley L. Garrett has tested the boundaries of urban security in order to experience the city in ways beyond the everyday. He calls it “place hacking”: the recoding of closed, secret, hidden and forgotten urban spaces to make them realms of opportunity. The book is also a manifesto, combining philosophy, politics and adventure, on our rights to the city and how to understand the twenty-first- century metropolis.

Reviews

  • “It’s hard not to admire these explorers. Or Garrett himself, who says he wrote part of the book on a laptop while sitting in a crane overlooking Aldgate East.”
  • “A no-nonsense, high-adrenaline, fast-twitch report that requires us to think about the city in new ways. This is a provocative challenge to received dogma. An inspiration to get out there, to go over the fence. To see with our own eyes.”
  • “Urban exploration is ... a way of renegotiating reality, transforming the moment, turning the city into a video game. Except that, in this game, you only have one life.”
  • “For Garrett, physical exploration is merely the outward manifestation of a deeper philosophical inquiry. The theoretical DNA of much of his work traces back to the concept of 'psychogeography.'”
  • “As the Earth becomes urban so explorers increasingly shift from the frontiers of ice and desert to the vast yet hidden domains of cities that remain curiously invisible in plain site. Explore Everything is the indispensable guide to this burgeoning world of urban exploration. It opens up the vast realms of our cities remain out-of-bounds -- the tunnels, bunkers, towers, sewers, stadia and more. With stunning clarity and visual power, it reveals the dank, dark and dangerous places that stalk both our urban imaginations and our visions of what a contemporary city might actually be. An extraordinary and important book.”
  • “When reading this wonderfully crafted text, it is apparent early on that Explore Everything is a vehicle for the spectacular. It contains exhilarating passages that decry the enforced striation of contemporary urbanism. It is a call to arms to not accept the city as spectacle, but to overcome the existing logic of the capitalist city and actively re-appropriate space.”
  • “Garrett’s book, and its excellent photography, makes clear that urban exploration manages to combine both vertigo and claustrophobia, with people perched on beams hundreds of feet above the city, trapped in elevators, and outrunning rapidly rising sewage. It also bears the mark of its origins as a doctoral thesis, with frequent references to Guy Debord and the theories of various philosophically minded geographers. It’s sort of like Jon Krakauer meets Gilles Deleuze, or a really adventurous W.G. Sebald.”
  • “A unique and electrifying travelogue ... Garrett and his fellow travelers are as fit, agile and fearless as ninja.”
  • “An absorbing read … Recommended for travel and modern history readers.”

Blog

  • Crossing the boundaries of academic research: Bradley Garrett prosecuted for criminal damage

    On Wednesday last week, in Court 9 of Blackfriars Crown Court, the law finally saw sense and justice was served. More than 20 months after author Bradley Garrett was hauled off a plane on the runway at Heathrow and arrested by the British Transport Police, it was finally agreed that he should be granted conditional discharge and face no further charges.

    Garrett first came to public attention in 2011 when he uploaded to his website www.placehacking.co.uk videos of an adventure to the top of the as-yet unfinished Shard. The clips showed not just how exciting it might be to scale the tallest building in London at night, but it transformed the way we could look at the city. Garrett soon proved himself to be more than just an adrenaline fiend, place hacking was the subject of his PhD. This was later adapted into the book Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City published last autumn.


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  • Will Self on 'the bizarre trial' of Bradley Garrett



    Bradley Garrett, author of Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City begins his trial today (Monday 28th April) at Blackfriars Crown Court. The charge levelled against Garrett, as well as 11 others, is that they conspired to commit criminal damage. Will Self has written a piece for the Evening Standard on the trail and the prosecution of 'place-hackers', as well as the consequences it holds for highlighting outdated notions of public versus private space”:

    A bizarre trial begins on Monday at Blackfriars Crown Court. Its proceedings are predicted to last at least six weeks, and the costs — no doubt extravagant — will be largely borne by taxpayers. At the centre of this legal circus are a group of so-called “place-hackers”, people who get their kicks from gaining access to derelict, secret or otherwise off-limits parts of the city. In recent years such “urban explorers” have become increasingly bold in challenging the official demarcation of public versus private space in our city. These conflicting visions of urban space will clash during this trial.

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  • 'Working to take place back'—Bradley Garrett in Transactions journal



    In the current issue of Transactions of the Institute of British GeographersExplore Everything author Bradley L. Garrett shares his research and analysis on urban exploration as critical spatial practice. Garrett ties present-day urban exploration to past interventions by the Situationist International and culture jammers, suggesting a common starting point for acts of urban subversion. Garrett notes:

    Urban exploration can be read as a reactionary practice working to take place back from exclusionary private and government forces, to redemocratise spaces urban inhabitants have lost control over. 

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