Subversive Sightseeing

Designer | Artist Tim Simpson
Year 2006

Though shown alongside documentation of its public use, ‘Subversive Sightseeing’ was
originally a site

specific work made to be viewed on
Hungerford Bridge
towards the South Bank
Centre in London. In this context, it took the form of a coin

operated telescope almost
identical to those provided for tourists to perceive cityscapes as framed, picturesque
compositions. Facing
the Houses of Parl
iament to the north and the London Eye to the south,
the telescope scans across a sequence of monuments that symbolize London to the world,
and that create a space of spectacle for tourists’ consumption.
Placing our money in the slot
and looking through th
e viewfinder, we encounter an image almost exactly, but not quite that
which an ordinary telescope would show. The telescope shows an LCD screen with footage
recorded from the very spot that the work is located. Moreover, being able to rotate the
through 120°, we discover that as we move, the image scans across the panorama.
This, in particular, compounds the confusion between real time and recorded image. Having
already instilled a sense of the uncanny, we notice various inexplicable and horrifyi
ng incidents
seamlessly woven into the urban vista. Over the course of a two

minute loop, six such moments
spread across the different parts of the scene. As we cannot see every part of the scene at
any given time, it is impossible to register them all in
one viewing.