AN AESTHETIC WALKING
TOUR OF WEST LONDON
I recently visited the Museum of London, a roundabout styled building located close to Moorgate Station but more importantly the remains of the Roman wall. The Museum leads you on a journey through the history of our capital, from its founding settlers to the triumphs and tribulations it has faced in recent years. The story of London is rich and nostalgic and as inhabitants of Britain we know many of the narratives of the capital. Within the global state, London is known for its plentiful history and historic landmarks as well as its business sector, making it a hub for tourists seeking a classic British experience.
At the end of the exhibition, the museum is holding a feature installation from the current CityNow CityFuture campaign. This series of workshops, talks and exhibits considers the future of London, both physically, in the lives of its people and economically. Having walked around the numerous previous historical installations this was a complete contrast. Besides the obvious difference that everything shown was simply a prototype or suggestion, the feel of the room was speculative and uneasy. What would the future of our capital look like?
As anticipated most of the future London proposals included highly advanced technology with the aim to make our lives easier and as a suggestion from PlayStation worded it “…liberate the next generation from work”. There has long been the argument of what we will be worth in a world where almost all labours and services are carried out by robots, but what would it mean specifically for London? As I walked around the Museum I came to the conclusion that as Londoners we currently rely upon the city, how Londoners make London London, the tube and the parks and the landmarks and the skyscrapers. But in a future where a glass structure twice the height of the shard is as normal as a cup of coffee will it be the inhabitants that make London what is it. If amidst all the technology our heritage is lost, will the historic experience of London only exist within the minds of the people. The stories of London are what drives its busy inhabitants but if we get sucked into a swarm of technology and lose those connections how will Londoners feel? As Richard Young put it in his description of his 2011 work The Un_Reel “Is he enjoying life? Or is he trapped in a virtual reality?”
As a brand, I strongly believe London will change dramatically. London is a global icon, one of the world’s capitals and it will constantly strive to move with the times and compete with cities such as New York and Sydney. Up until now, we have been able to maintain our heritage and thrive from it but at what point will the experience of the London Dungeons or the Crown Jewels or Buckingham Palace be old news against the technology of tomorrow. If we can experience the views of London from a drone in our living room why would we need to go up the Shard?
The experience of London could be determined by the extent in which we let technology take over and how much of our heritage remains. Whatever the answer our future is sceptical and a question that no one can really truly answer.