Hans Dieter Schaal

In his book Paths and Passages Hans Dieter Schaal visualises what a journey can feel like. In his fine black and white drawings different spaces are imagined not as they exist but as they are experienced. Some pathways are more detailed than others. In one, a linear line splits into different islands of conscious awareness. In another, a forest track starts out plain white until it is populated with tree stumps and logs. Throughout, paths unroll and become motion.

December is a month filled with light. A lot of the time I think of them as lights used to combat…


A plain clothes police officer jumps into a pool to arrest a group of of black and white protestors, 1964, Monson Motor Lodge, Florida

I’ve found, recently, that whenever I am swimming I can’t help but think about photographs. Perhaps it is something to do with the development process. In a darkroom, where film photos are processed, the negative is projected onto blank paper using light, the paper is submerged in trays of chemical, until an image rises up from the surface and becomes fixed. The water I swim is treated and it too tastes stinging and chemical, and I too feel as I break its surface to take a breath that I am becoming fixed from beneath. …


One night, when my partner and I were cycle touring in the USA, we decided to set up camp in a small park by the side of the road. The site was perfect. It was close to a fast moving river, the water misting over dense forest on its far side bank. The ground was flat and well-kept, the pegs burying into the ground with little resistance. Best of all, our small tent was hidden behind a collection of trees. We had set up late, and there was little chance of anyone discovering our one-night-only trespass. There was a road…


Aaron Siskind, Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation #37 (1953)

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s Aaron Siskind took hundreds of photographs of young men jumping into a lake in Chicago. Siskind titled the eventual series The pleasures and terrors of levitation. There is only one figure per photograph, caught in the process of contorting their body in the air before they hit the water. Some curl themselves up into an orb, others spread their arms with a cartoonish flapping, there are still more who have turned themselves upside-down, looking meteoric and weightier than their suspended counterparts. Removed from any discernible context these bodies float against a plain white background…


HEEM, Jan Davidsz A Table of Desserts, 1640

In any large London supermarket you will find an embarrassment of riches. Apart from the occasional Avocado or Courgette scare, foodstuff is available to us without restriction (apart from price tag) all year round. Walking under Sainsbury’s strip lighting, half fondling a nectarine, I am barely aware of the distance it has travelled to reach me, or the labour that has gone in to its production. And later, when I eat it, these things don’t cross my mind, it is a visceral experience, its fleshy softness, its sweetness, the juice running down my chin.

Our relationship with food has always…


In his introduction to the 1959 edition of Robert Frank’s seminal photobook The Americans Jack Kerouac, beat writer of On the Road fame, provided an introduction as lyrical and expansive as Frank’s work. Word and image are perfectly matched. Turning one of the pages, to see a lone car driving into the distance, the road slick and wet with light, contracting, funnel-like, into the horizon, as if to the edge of the earth, with everything so vast and yet so empty (Frank’s U.S. …


Skyn advertising campaign: Save Intimacy, Sid Lee

In Love in the Time of Tamagotchi, Darren Pettman writes lucidly on the Western idealism of Romanticism, a vision that elevates love as a fixed expression between human beings. Relationships that question or problematise this notion, such as virtual courtships with avatars, dating simulation games or even the ‘love algorithms’ used on sites such as eHarmony or OKCupid, are at once belittled and feared. Such relationships, the argument goes, signal the end of intimacy and a closing down of ‘natural’ interactions. …


In the summertime I imagine that Letenská pláň, a green tongue of land rising high above the river Vltava, is a tangle of bodies and revelry. I picture the beer gardens full, tables sticky with spillages, the smell of cigarettes and fried food from small tarmac-side vendors. Below, a string of boats on the river, chugging merrily with brightly coloured pageantry. Perhaps, if I squint, I can conjure the cap-covered heads of swimmers, bobbing in the water.

However, I have visited Prague in the depths of winter, and the park is decidedly bleak. The trees are stripped of colour and…


Still from Lexus advert by The&Partnership

When travelling from King’s Cross Underground to the St Pancras concourse you pass through a small tunnel, no more than 30 meters long. This small walk, placed between two points, is neither ‘here’ nor ‘there’ but a space in-between the two. It is the definition of interim, free-floating, outside of linguistic significance.

In the city, a dead space with a high footfall is to be utilised. Not just utilised in fact, but monetised. Emptiness means inertia and petrification. Emptiness is lack of, the removal of and the complete obliteration of. And yet, simultaneously, the fear of emptiness is what may…

Emma Jones

Essay writer and arts professional living in London. Interests include existentialism, photography and cycling. Get in touch if you'd like me to write for you!

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