LIQUID CITY By Marc Atkins and Iain Sinclair (Reaktion £14.95)
It is hard to describe just what exactly the book is, is it a travelogue, is it an exploration of the process of change constantly taking place in London or is it just a montage of pictures with a rambling sometimes connected discourse? Actually it's a bit of all the above, but whatever it is there is a definite pull being exerted. Marc Atkins is a renowned photographer and his images of mainly East and South East London (though Temple Bar is in Herts) form the core of the book. Iain Sinclair is an author who has contributed a stream of consciousness that combines diary, interview and documentary.
What you won't find is a tourist trail. This book looks at things that we have forgotten (often with very good reason) or that have crumbled away with neglect. The landscapes are often stark and industrial, but sometimes close and intimate. The liquid refers to the Thames which although not ever-present, lurks in the background in all its mystery. In the introduction Sinclair comments on their different approaches and the alchemy that eventually produced this volume. Although not in any particular order, it manages to start on the M25 boundary at West Thurrock, but no views of happy shoppers at Lakeside, just the overgrown railway lines and towers of power stations and refineries. This sets the tone for a preoccupation with decay, be it tombs in Bunhill fields, the vast cemetery at Leyton or just modern concrete tombs of architects ideals of towers in the sky. Places such as Blooms are a welcome contrast when you turn the page.
The writing veers between poetry and living diary, but still seductively pulls you in. Contrast or complimentary, whatever your viewpoint this is a work that along with 'Robinson in Space' almost creates a new genre.