The Outdoors Has Become The Factory

ImageThe outdoors has become the factory. It has become that inhospitable environment that people were once relieved to clock off from. A few straggling pedestrians are battered by the production-line-motion of road transport noise, violent to the senses; repetitive noises once the preserve of the heavy industries and 20 century-style wars; floodlights that obliterate all vision on poorly lit streets; a ‘get-out-my-way’ speed that keeps the pedestrians obediently on their toes; and warning signs/CCTV cameras (that may or may not have human eyes behind them) instilling into them a need for even more obedience –  “don’t loiter; get on with what you should be doing”(usually consuming).

People, mainly in cars, or zoned out from others on express train commutes with all sensory organs focusing on screens/plugged into machines. The social/The outdoors: a gauntlet, a place to spend minimal possible time in. People so inconvenienced, anxious, exhausted and alone, from living in what Will Self calls ‘the Man-machine Matrix’ (which  requires increasingly more energy, enthusiasm, commitment from them) react to such circumstances by attempting to build private spaces of maximum available satisfaction. Private bunkers proliferate as hasty attempts to close the door of the outdoors in order to cling onto spaces of lonely enjoyment abandon the outdoors to the human waste of noise pollution, light pollution and the frustration from unsatisfactory private bunker moments that overspills into threats of violence on the streets.

Image

Headphones, that damage the ear drums with ‘chosen’ noise, block out the otherwise inescapable noise of traffic. But the pedestrian can’t escape the horizontal-shower of blinding lights in a wintertime rush hour. Watching a road at rush hour is like a process in a production-line or automated factory. All of us, frustratingly one at a time, in an urge to get to the master private bunker; our home. Everybody is out and moving; moving alone. An army of ants who have all been coaxed and conditioned by the religion of self.

People increasingly stressed and short of time, are constantly fighting against the rising tide of ‘inconveniences’; they are constantly thinking “don’t take away my valued private space for enjoyment; don’t infringe on my little moment of leisure time” and you witness adults kick up a child-like fuss when their private moment “to do what they wish” is subjected to a gate-crashing. (but yet a child-like response is expected from a people who have no collective/or social space, but only their private bunkers).

Image

The pedestrian’s experience of this noisy and thankless environment is probably more specific to the outer-city road networks and the sprawling sleeping suburbs that bleed off them, than the central zones of the country’s largest city sprawls. Few spaces outside our front doors in the sprawling suburbs are places you’d want to remain static in; constantly experiencing the hasty gust of traffic, whispering “come on, move on, hurry up!” in your ear.

Social space becomes more arid and desert-like under this prevailing viral logic. The seed of ‘market individualism’ planted by ideas under the umbrella of Thatcherism and Reaganism, grew like a tree seed between the bricks of socially-progressive modernism, shattering the old ideas of a better world; it’s branches extending and its roots sinking into more and more aspects of life. But here I wish only to think about one aspect: how the factory-like environment of harsh and relentless noises and sounds, and the violence of disciplinary impositions dealt through surveillance (historically situated in workplaces and prisons) have filled the streets. That they have filled the streets due to our only use for them in the past quarter of a century being ‘rat-runs’ to and from our private bunkers.

Image

However, there is now a net hemorrhaging of people from the comfort blankets that the private bunker provides, and it just cannot be ignored; the comfort blankets posses people with a sense that it is safer and surer to stay tucked inside this dominant ideological model (as if it was a spaceship promising us safe landing if we stay on board). Without this blanket maybe there will be a changing use of the outdoors again. But it is too soon to say if this will occur, or whether those decreasing few who still feel they have an investment in this system will increasingly make the outdoors look more ghetto-like, as they make fortresses out of their homes and cars, protected by state mechanisms increasingly hostile to the outdoors as the state itself falls deeper into crisis. But this particular blog isn’t the place to discuss this in detail; I’ve already said what I needed to say right now.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About John Ledger

A visual Artist, eternal meanderer and obsessive self-reflector by nature, who can’t help but try to interpret everything from within the tide of society. His works predominantly take the form of large scale ballpoint pen landscape drawings and map-making as social/psychological note-making. They are slowly-accumulating responses to crises inflicted upon the self in the perplexing, fearful, empty, and often personality-erasing human world.

One response to “The Outdoors Has Become The Factory”

  1. Bex says :

    Maybe that isolation you have described is both an inevitability and a necessity… I’m not sure that people generally perceive themselves as part of any sort of community anymore, certainly not one where their wellbeing is actually linked to others outside the immediate family. The more people have become focussed on the pursuit of completely independent lives and goals, the less they are able to recognise community. Which is an extension of no longer recognising nature. Also, most of the outdoors is someone or something’s property… a lot of these changes have very deep roots I think. In terms of the necessity of isolation, truly communal land and communal spaces and communal thinking are totally at odds with the capitalist-world experience, so it’s not surprising that they are generally rare these days.
    Anyone would think I was some kind of commune-dweller 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: