POP QUIZ (multiple choice):
a) a gastrointestinal malady evidenced by excessive burping
b) the invisible tenth planet of the solar system
c) urban exploration
d) religious ecstasy
e) none of the above
Condolences if you suffer from urbex of the gastrointestinal tract. There's a pill for that. URBEX, if you guessed correctly, is a coined term meaning "urban exploration." Everybody's favorite know-it-all, Wikipedia, describes it thus:
"Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment."
Chances are there are plenty of areas within a ten mile radius of where you are right now that you haven't explored at all. Old churches, abandoned warehouses, power plants, prisons, schools, barns, rail yards, junkyards, alleys, overgrown parks, your own garage. Cameras love these places, uncovering decaying textures and colors, man-made patterns in the process of being reclaimed by nature's wabi-sabi, mysteries and stories of things forgotten. URBEX will crank up our curiosity meters to 11; we'll begin noticing things right in front of our eyes that we swear weren't there before, but of course were there all along.
Just so you know, we DO NOT advocate any extreme version of URBEX for this assignment. Infiltration or illegal access to private property is not condoned. If you choose to ignore No Trespassing signs, crawl through barbed wire, or slither through a drain in search of its source, you're on your own. If you've googled URBEX, you already know where it can take you. Fortunately, there's lots out there to explore in perfect safety. Here's a website to introduce you to some of the possibilities: http://www.urbexplayground.com/
Use your own comfort meter to determine how far to take this assignment. Any time we walk out the front door, there's risk involved, yet we do it anyway every day. The same precautions should apply when we explore unfamiliar areas with a camera. Watch your stuff and your step, be aware of other people, tell someone where you're going, shoot with a friend, etc. Let common sense rule the day.
Some are going to say, "Hey wait a minute, I'm in the middle of Wyoming. I wanna play too - what do I do?" Easy - RUREX! Yes, it's a real thing, just like URBEX. Instead of rats and cockroaches, you might encounter crows, cows or coyotes. Everyone, though, is going to run into spiders. Just sayin'.
Why do this? Apart from the obvious photographic opportunities, we may learn something about our community, maybe something that calls for change. Who knows, our photos may have a positive influence on someone. I know this works - it's happened to me. Our photography can be a community service, a force for good.
You are invited to come join us in our private Photo Assignment Facebook group where you can share your images and comments with other active members. URBEX is a great opportunity for a SLATE project, too. If you haven't done one yet, visit slate.adobe.com to get started.
URBEX / RUREX will run for two weeks, from March 9 through March 22.