underground - Katherine Young

London Underground, colloquially known as the Tube, it is the oldest underground railway in the world. The Metropolitan Line was the first to be opened in 1863 and ran between Paddington and Farringdon. The endless tunnels are normally overrun with human activity at all hours of the day.

The architecture of each station is unique although a number of stations share similar characteristics and styles. I personally favour the ones with smooth, stainless steel escalators and contrasting concrete walls. The simplicity of the materials emphasises texture and form of each structure and determines how it renders light and shadow. My fascination with the architecture of the tube eventually translated into four separate series of images capturing my impressions of it.

The first of the four is a six-part series called ‘Heart of Darkness’. Its title was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novella ‘Heart of Darkness’ and I used its double meaning to describe the darkness that exists deep within the underground tunnels as well as that existing in every person’s heart. Soon after came another six-part series ‘The Abyss’, the menacing alien insect series, closely followed by ‘The Void’ and ‘Oblivion’ each consisting of three images. The ‘Heart of Darkness’ and ‘The Abyss’ are both very atmospheric, ominous and dark. ‘The Void’ and ‘Oblivion’ on the other hand, have a very different feel to them. Bright, high-key processing makes the empty interiors look clinical resembling empty hospital wards or the interior of a spaceship.

Despite their obvious differences, the common theme in all my series is its haunting and eerie mood - futuristic spaces devoid of any signs of life create an air of mystery and apprehension. My intention was to create a ‘post-apocalyptic’ ambience, removing all unnecessary elements from the frame, focusing purely on the architecture of each station.


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