COMMUTE (2015 – 2017)
My Commute project started life as an Instagram project (www.instagram.com/johnhousephoto) as a way to stay sane on my daily journey between Hastings and Brighton. It soon became an obsession and has continued to evolve ever since.
We consistently share unspoken moments with each other, observing, glancing and watching as we go about our daily routines.
Whilst coined by Baudelaire it was Walter Benjamin who popularised the idea of the flâneur as an intellectual concept – a stroller of the urban environment, watching and absorbing life taking place whilst remaining a detached observer not directly interacting with what they encountered.
Understandably, these concepts have been adopted by artists and photographers, with obvious parallels being drawn between the flâneur and the act of taking a photograph.
Whilst on my daily commute, I kept my head down avoiding direct interaction with my fellow passengers, yet was a curious observer of their behaviour, a flâneur of the busses and trains I frequented.
Keen to capture these stolen fleeting glances of behaviour, yet cautious about direct interaction, I have been ‘stealing’ people’s portraits by shooting their reflected images; the windows enabling me to remain a detached observer.
“For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world—impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito.” Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life”, 1863
Below is an initial selection of some of these images all captured on a camera phone. This project is ongoing and a final edit yet to be decided upon.