Street Level

One might say there are two kinds of people; those who take an elevator to work and those who don’t. The lift-folk see the world in abstraction. They raise themselves above the planets surface, with it’s teeming masses of filthy flesh. They look down from a distance, seeing a blurred meta-vista. They base their business decisions on an unhealthy holism, grouping complex concepts into useful, but incomplete, generalisations.

Coders know this problem well. Anyone who spoke more than one programming language could tell you how each becomes increasingly inefficient the further it gets from the metal, from the ones and the zeros. At the CPU level code runs smoothly, logically and highly efficiently. Every level it steps above that, toward human comprehension, it becomes more abstract, operating at a lower speed. Sloppier. More clumsy. Every elevator floor is a level of abstraction, a decay in meaning.

Miles didn’t take a lift to work. Never had. He conducted his business at ground level. In the first floor studio space he shared near Dalston Junction (with its heavy gates, and security cameras), home to a better class of crackhead. Or in pubs and cafés on the pavements of London town, populated by yummy mummies and the idle rich. Feet to the floor the only way to stay ahead. To maximise ones operating potential. To stay relevant.

He swore, in the name of Art, that as he sat outside that cafe on Tottenham Court Road, watching the flow and looking for a subject, he was pure of intention. He poured the last from his pot of over-stewed tea, and watched the street, gently vibrating with the sweet tension of caffeine in his bloodstream. His selection was to be entirely objective. He was attempting to be careful, but not overly conscious of his choice. Allowing chaos to guide him. He needed an average specimen, but not too average. Just average enough.

Ten minutes later he was surreptitiously filming a young girl waiting for a bus from behind a wheely bin. Long mousey hair. Average features, slender build. Slightly flushed, reddish complexion. Short skirt, thick tights, boots and a sensible jacket. She stood mostly oblivious to the world around her, staring dead eyed at the tiny phone-screen in her hand, thumb rhythmically scrolling. This didn’t feel wrong to him. He was street level. He operated in the name of Art.


posted September 2nd, 2012

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