While formal documentation processes have long been explored in information science, less about more ephemeral documentary practices has been explored. Urban exploration, a hobby in which urbexers visit and photograph abandoned and decaying sites, offers one example of informal and fleeting documentary practice. The visual outputs of urban exploration are often found via websites and social media channels, with reposting by the public facilitating wider dissemination of images. The informal, shadowy, and sometimes transitory documentary practices that feature in urban exploration often exist as digital traces of the hobby. This article explores the documentary practices of urban explorers through semistructured, face-to-face interviews with seventeen urban explorers as well as investigations of their online presence. The highly secret nature of the hobby places urban explorers outside mainstream social participation; however, their approach to documenting and sharing with others reveals a unique means of understanding how individuals gather, create, share, and document information as part of their evolving documentary practices as individuals and as a hobby community.


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pp. 556-572
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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