THE TRADITIONAL CONCEPTION of “exploration” has always looked “out there”: sailing around the world, trekking to the South Pole, summitting the world’s tallest mountains. But every time a legendary explorer went out to confront those frontiers, to push past them, the rest of humanity was back at home, constructing the infrastructure that makes our modern lives possible.
Like any complex system, crafted over long periods of time and often with short-sighted planning, redundancies developed. Sites were built, scrapped, covered over, and built again. Entire substrates of our biggest cities are closed off and largely forgotten. At the same time, you have restricted-access facilities that are used and depended on every day by millions of people: storm drains, power stations, construction cranes, skyscraper ledges, utility tunnels. A built landscape, created by humans but kept out of sight of all those who live within it.
Enter the urban explorers, men and women from all over the globe intent on bypassing the safeguards, hopping the fences — intent on practicing the art of intrusion — in order to chart and document this new frontier. Equipped with enviable photo and video skills / equipment and a means of distribution via social media, they’re showing the world what’s been right under our feet this whole time.
Watch the video above, Art of Intrusion (footage by Bradley L. Garrett, edited by Matador’s Eric Warren), and then check out the photo galleries linked below that pay homage to the urban explorers, placehackers, free climbers, and others who are pushing the boundaries on the edge of this new frontier.
Exploring sewers, utility tunnels, and catacombs around the world
21 examples of you-fall-you-die photography with the world’s most insane skywalkers
Urban free climbing: The new extreme sport you shouldn’t try
Descending into the lost River Effra, London
Sneaking into Bulgaria’s abandoned Communist party headquarters