Photographer Chris Dorley Brown shot urban scenes throughout a borough of London over the course of years and, after enough time passed by, not only returned to the same location but recreated the very same composition to photograph them again. Those pairs of before-and-after photos, published here for the first time in this unique format, span two decades and show us the sometimes incredible and sometimes subtle, but always present, march of time.
This interactive app provides an especially fitting means of experiencing this exceptional photographer’s particular view into the ways in which streets, buildings and even people change over time. By tapping the subtle icon in the lower-left corner the before image fades into the after image of that given location. Tap repeatedly to toggle back and forth through time. Scroll vertically to see a comparison of both photos side by side, the years they were shot, and the photos’ caption.
The app includes a hundred and twenty before-and-after photographs spanning over twenty years, as well as an essay on this work by writer Stewart Home.
“The photographs of Chris Dorley Brown invite us to think about time. He shoots an urban scene and then goes back many years later to record the same slice of metropolitan scenery once again. The framing of the first shot is a matter of aesthetic choice, the second the result of chance since it has been self-consciously created with no regard to how changes in the built environment may have a detrimental effect upon its composition. In the selection of images gathered together here, Chris takes the London Borough of Hackney as his subject. To me this particular series of images look like evidence from the scene of a horrendous and almost incomprehensible crime. Utopia has been murdered. By blaming an ideal for the deficiencies of the real, utopia was transformed into a scapegoat and then ritually sacrificed. Properly understood, utopia should have been no more than a marker we would self-consciously over shoot, but it was deliberately confused with a fixed destination, and then cast out from the (anti-)social (dis)order of the capitalist present. Those who abandoned utopia and acquiesced to its murder, let themselves down. Their future has been replaced by an eternal present which, on examination, turns out to be a mythological simulation a faked past. While accepting the past is a construction, it is nonetheless rooted in material realities that must and will yet well up to remake the world we occupy today.”
– Excerpt from an essay on Continuum by Stewart Home