MIXED REALITIES

Data walk reflections in locked-down London

Figure 1: My data run route. I confined my 45-odd-minutes’ data run to the Central London neighbourhoods of Bloomsbury and Holborn, with a small touch-and-go detour onto Fleet Street. In keeping with the regulations, I ‘stayed local’ in my outing.
Figure 2: The home page of bbc.com on 25 April 2020. Every single news item is about Coronavirus. I would imagine that any visitor to the site would have, if nothing else, been alarmed.
Figure 3: The Bing Covid-19 Tracker Map, Figures and Graphs for the UK on 25 April 2020. The pandemic is often broadcast and consumed in the form of data. The semiotic relevance of how the colour red is used to construct a visualisation of the aggressive spread of the virus, against an insipid and impotent grey world, is hard to miss. Is this perhaps deliberately reminiscent of the great outbreaks of smallpox, plague or measles?
Figure 4: A sign on a hedge. It exhorts the need to be careful, and to maintain social distancing.
Figure 5: A chalk-sign drawn on a pathway. There is in a sense, a spatial translation of the message of social distancing, as the sign on the hedge is realised from abstraction, on the ground.
Figure 7: Security personnel in the Bloomsbury shopping complex. Staying at home during the pandemic is simply not possible for some.
Figure 8: Markings on the ground. These will be used by public works personnel, as they execute repairs and redevelopment of sidewalks over spring and the summer. Is this then, not precarity?
Figure 9: Markings on the ground (continued).
Figure 10: Cordoned off pavements and construction material. This is a photograph from early April. This pavement in Bloomsbury underwent redevelopment, expansion, beautification slap-bang in the middle of the lockdown. Notice the worker in an orange vest in the far right corner.
Figure 11: Redevelopment of the pavement. This is a photograph from the week ending 19 April 2020. The workers are not wearing masks or gloves. The lockdown has quietened the neighbourhood down, and I often hear them laughing and guffawing during their lunch breaks, even from across the street. They speak in a tongue which I have only been able to identify as Slavic.
Figure 12: A food delivery cyclist. With the lockdown in force, going out for a meal is not possible anymore. People have turned to food delivery apps. While they stay home, and stay safe, the friendly neighborhood delivery person does the rounds. Precarity much?
Figure 13: People in Bloomsbury Park. 25 April 2020, like the rest of the month, saw some fine weather. Neither the pandemic nor the lockdown could keep people away from soaking in some sunshine in London’s parks.
Figure 14: A sign outside a liquor store which I ran past on 25 April 2020. Is the pandemic reshaping the economic spheres of exchange?

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
LagomWorks: Research, Design and Innovation

LagomWorks is an applied anthropology and ethnographic research-led design and innovation consulting firm.