By Magali Peyrefitte
The photographs in this slideshow entitled ‘Soho: Dédale’ were taken as part of a larger multi-sensory and multi-media ethnography of Soho (London) with the Baseline Project. They also formed part of my final project for an MA in Photography pursued in order to complement my academic practice.
Soho is undergoing a rapid process of sanitisation through an hegemonic form of gentrification. Attentive to its different rhythms, I have photographed and recorded sounds at different times of day and night over two years. The combination of the two media responds to the necessity of investigating the rhythms of the city by moving through and sensing place. The acts of photographing and recording sounds consolidate this embodied experience. In this exploration at the inter-disciplinary boundary of photography and ethnography, I have also paid particular attention to the lights of Soho (natural but mostly electric) as they reveal its multi-faceted nature in times of change. In this composition, the poetics of a place in flux are translated through a metaphorical use of light and by extension the reflection of light: the connected electric hues forming its pictorial syntax.
Reflecting on my position as a photographer as well as an ethnographer in the field has been central in considering the phenomenological processes of knowing Soho as place as well as in engaging in a ‘live sociology’. The slideshow as an artful research output is situated in a conversation on representational changes and potentials in sociology envisaging alternative ways of writing and disseminating ethnography inside and outside academia.
Dr Magali Peyrefitte is Senior Lecturer in criminology/sociology at Middlesex University London. She tweets at @m_peyrefitte.