What is Urban Exploration?

If you ask ten fans of urban exploration the above question, you're bound to get ten very different answers. And if you go surfing to have a look at all the UE-related sites out there, you're bound to get very confused as to the nature of the activity itself. What, exactly, is urban exploration? Do urban explorers have characteristics in common? Or do people just use the term loosely to describe a bunch of different activities and a whole slew of weirdos that don't share a lot?

The term "urban exploration" is not in the dictionary (yet!). It's an expression that was forged on the streets. But I believe we could all agree that a very vague definition of such an expression could be:

Urban exploration is the exploration of urban environments

Doesn't say much, right? Indeed. (In the field of philosophy, we call that sort of definition a tautology.) But that's the point. Using it we have isolated the two central, underlying concepts: exploration, and urban environments. First, not everyone explores in the same way; and second, not everyone explores the same kind of places. Variety in those two concepts is what gives rise to what I shall call the urban exploration spectrum. Gonna get scientific on your ass, now! Here's a nifty graphic:

The two ends of the graphic have been labeled "tame" and "extreme" in relation both to the style of exploration, and to the environments explored. They usually go hand-in-hand anyway. Rarely will you don your ninja gear to explore a public park, or just waltz in a high-security industrial warehouse whistling away. But I'm getting ahead of myself. (Some of the names in the graphic are clickable, by the way.)

So how do we progress from left to right, from tame to extreme? By increasing the risk, either in the methods of exploration or in the locations one explores.

Next page


Back to UEM