Nothing To Worry About
\ Urban alienation, fear of terrorism, suicide and surveillance.
“Cities that do not adapt to us will insist we adapt to them. For those who cannot or will not, there is only exile or alienation”. Italo Calvino, ’Invisible Cities’ 1974.
‘Nothing To Worry About’ is a 130 page, A5, black and white booklet originally inspired by an interest in the impact of security cameras. The concept was then developed though my concerns about the fear of terrorism - in relation to the actual risk - and personal experiences of urban alienation.
For several years, many of the final images were included in edits for other projects. However, about 5 years ago I discovered that we are about 2000 times more likely to kill ourselves than to be killed by a terrorist. It was at that point I began to see a connection between suicide, urban alienation, surveillance and our fear of terrorism. I then began re-working the edit and including imagery from the other projects. Looking back through my archive, I realised I had subconsciously been inspired by these subjects on a regular basis. Once the connection between the themes had been identified it then become possible to galvanise the concept and produce this final sequence.
The images were taken mainly in London, Paris, Cardiff, Oxford and Oslo during the first 15 years of this century. The first and last few pages are manipulated photographs of fight scenes I took in 2010. Scenes acted out by human beings to provide wireframe data for the development of video games. Violent video games set in urban environments. The front and back covers are collages of city maps, technical drawings of guns and security cameras.
Also included is a text by Alexia Wdowski (reprinted below) that she wrote in response to the imagery, quotes and data I had been working with on the project. The final edit, artwork and printing of 33 signed and numbered copies of the booklet was completed in 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown. Production costs were (indirectly) supported through the Arts Council of Wales emergency fund for Artists to which I am very grateful.
The world looks like a different place right now. I doubt terrorism is top of people’s list of things to worry about anymore. The themes of this project may now have changed, but they have not gone away.
\ James Hudson
\ June 2020
Nothing to Worry About
‘Cities that do not adapt to us will insist we adapt to them. For those who cannot or will not, there is only exile or alienation.’1
Our cities are growing. Silver and grey and joining the old towns together until you can’t see green for concrete and the trees wither to patio size. Small buildings shoot upwards and tall trees shrink into tubs and wave their reflections at us through glass or come flashing up as photographs onto our screens. Inches and angles are the architect’s battlegrounds and walls are built high with new seeing eyes and their gates hovered over from satellites in space, silently watching and circling.
But we live here too. Alive yet still more burdened and controlled until we are just streams of consciousness pulsing through the streets to work and home, to work and home, going into shops alone to purchase goods, to drink and stare and try to stem the beating blood of anxiety.
You’re looking gaunt.
A separate part of a lonely whole.
Look up at the sky and see the cameras from the government to keep us safe and see the cameras on the corners from the companies, protecting their assets and keeping us safe and so, and so we breathe and eat more than we should and surrender to the ever increasing stream of information by photographing ourselves by ourselves in the corners of our grey and silver flats.
Uploading our lives.
Sharing our blank faces and foods and ever-changing favourites.
Newly digitalizing our babies.
The more we watch, the more we think and three quarters of UK people think ‘international terrorism’ is the biggest threat we face.2
Therefore our fear is growing. Terror is broadcast live, passed around and drank from, explored and sighed over. Exchanged with looks of horror. Watching those contorted faces with your own, shaking your own head.
Looking at hoods and hatchets and static and looking at bombs in shopping centers where the camera shakes and then the screams come. Open your eyes to bombs in Christmas markets, bombs on holiday, bombs after dinner in that restaurant. Walking in the middle of the street on a wet Tuesday.
Your breath is short and your heart is racing.
But we are 2000 times more likely to kill ourselves than to be killed by a terrorist.3
Loneliness and social isolation increase the risk of dying early by one quarter.4 Being alone is killing us. We try and step out of the stream and it kills us. Alone and the ranks of the city close in. Death by aluminium, death by brick, death by steel and concrete and copper. Cold as marble, cold as glass.
Death by lack of human.
1. Calvino. I. (1974) Invisible Cities. Translated by William Weaver, Vintage books, London
2. YouGov poll of UK public’s global concerns - September 2014
3. Global Terrorism Database / Statista
4. Perspectives on Psychological Science - March 2015 10: 227-237