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 come creeping in or up to the surface. Think of it perhaps like your body in water, alone and yet surrounded, only able, when looking down, to see your own legs, before the inky darkness of the ocean beneath.
A 2014 study, conducted by the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, found that people would rather inflict themselves with a small electric shock than sit quietly and think for a period of 15 minutes.
There is a myriad of distraction available to you at all times, to remind you that you are not, in fact, alone. Consider the billboards and the Insta feed and the big screens. There is the intertwining of storytelling and advertising. Simultaneously, there is the use of advertising to remind you of your emptiness, a mild dissatisfaction, to be filled with whatever is being sold.
In some ways, the commuter is the perfect example of John Berger’s envious working self. Dreaming of active consumption but stuck in passivity as the tube howls down the tunnel, footsteps moving in unison deep underground. Throughout the small walk from King’s Cross Underground to St Pancras there are large bright screens on the walls with speakers above each one, allowing for a moments glance and an echo of something short and sharp designed to resonate within you throughout the day.
Most recently, Lexus used the space to advertise its new self charging hybrid. In a loop a woman tells you to “seek inspiration, day and night”, coupled with a black screen with a digital clock changing from one minute to another and filmic images, the women raising a camera to her face, seen through the car window, a man running towards her, trees either side, bathed in brake light red.
It may have been the speakers glitching but, at some point, the endless mantra to “seek inspiration” hit at different moments meaning that, as you walked through to the station, the woman’s voice overlapped itself over and over, wave breaking on the shoreline, only to be overtaken by another, the escalators looping, up and down. The images repeating in an endless cycle too, the same minute changing in between two moments, an illusion that time is passing only if you continue to walk through this tunnel to your destination, and do not stop to think.
Through the Lexus hybrid advert the interim space is transformed. No longer in-between, it asserts ownership of the space and provides distraction. And yet, through consideration, seeking inspiration within this advert means reflecting emptiness back onto the image; the car itself becoming little more than a white shell or an empty rib cage. As a whole, the advert becomes an experience far more than what is attempting to sell and, in this, loses its power to remind you of your dissatisfaction, becoming only an echo of its own.