Friday, 23 April 2010

Following instructions

With the time for my final journey approaching, I felt a mixture of relief and regret - relief that my task would soon be completed but also regret as these trips have become part of my routine and I shall miss them.  Still, all good things must come to an end and if I were to continue them too long, the idea would become overworked and the novelty pall. 

As it was the last remaining dice option, it obviously wasn't a surprise but out of all of them, this was probably the one over which I had least control.  This journey was to be under the influence of another person - by handing over my will for the day and following a set of text instructions sent by my good friend Chad, I attempted to put myself in the position of ‘going with the flow', allowing whatever would happen to happen. I had no idea what to expect - the only proviso that I had made was that the tasks were not to be illegal or put me in any physical danger.

Following a set of instructions can be viewed as yet another kind of game-play and a further strategy for laying oneself open to chance encounters.  Even though, as a participant in this game, I am obliged to lay aside my free will, I still need to find a response which is 'free within the limits set by the rules' (Roger Caillois, Man, Play and Games).  This doesn't come easy to me, being the sort of person who doesn't like being told what to do!   Although not spontaneous in the true sense of the word, as someone else had already planned the day’s itinerary, it provoked unplanned reactions and serendipitous occurrences.  As ever, I had thought that the day's photographs were a motley bunch of unrelated incidents but on returning home and sorting through them, the usual connections and patterns began to assert themselves.

My first instruction - go to island gardens and walk through the thames tunnel.......

My task completed, I texted back for further instructions.  I had naturally assumed that as I had come so far and was on the Greenwich side of the river, that I would be sent up the hill to investigate the Meridian and the Observatory and experienced a frisson of disappointment when my next instructions came through.  I was briefly tempted to rebel but then decided I must stick to the rules and be obedient for once in my life.... 


  1. I feel some regret, too, that your series is now ending- it was an extraordinary concept opening new views and discoveries of the city London- not only for the foreigner's eyes- and new personal experiences.
    The last part of the "chance encounters"- 'game' is particularly interesting- it's a pity that I cannot read all 'instructions' Chad gave you via SMS- I myself hadn't not any doubt to follow his orders and to be "obedient" although I often prefer going my own ways! But you couldn't find a better partner than him! A fine, partly funny (sheep!) collection of photo's at the end of this 'game' as result -my favourite picture is nr. 3: a poetical-airy one! The Greenwich Observatory is a must for our pupils when visiting London.
    You touched many aspects of the big city- I like always the combination of text and picture- sometimes I would like more to listen to the depictured things or situations telling us some stories taken place now and formerly. I assume you will show a map of London marking all the points you visited. This project should be continued - for example Bristol seems to be a fascinating city!
    (Last weekend I took part in a photo-seminar organized by a very talented photographer- we had the "instruction" to photograph the market on a busy Saturday- but I landed in the cathedral and had there really my spiritual experience while looking around for some fine photo's. Never before I had thought that this were possible!)

  2. Thanks for all your comments on the way Philine - I have appreciated them. I agree with you - no. 3 is my favourite picture - a lucky find. I'm not sure about continuing the series, but if I did, I would still do London as it is my favourite city and has endless possibilities. I will certainly consider the idea of a map, but I've got a few more posts to do yet!