Abstract: Measuring Silences - David Kendall

Whereto: David Kendall

David Kendall
Centre for Urban and Community Research
University of London

'Measuring Silences' is a series of projects that investigate the dichotomy of the seen and the unseen. Audio-visual and photographic works aim to question notions of ocular transparency and perceptual engagement in response to rapid structural change in Gulf cities. Walking interventions explore thresholds between private and public spaces. Sites where quality of light comes in many hues and intensities that shape visual composition. Thus revelling moments of legibility and geographical engagement with shifting edge conditions in the city.

The 'apparent' horizon or skyline is often a terminus for residents and visitors navigating an evolving infrastructure network. However walking in sites designed for motorised travel could offer autonomous opportunities to move freely and weave within city spaces intended to direct users towards particular destinations. In these settings the practice of walking is a polluted environmental experience, and standing still in dust and exhaust fumes generates social and physical barriers. Yet the relentless noise of motor vehicles and construction sites underpinning new architectural backdrops can reveal sensory absences.

Staring into space suggests a presence. Provisional scenes appear as optical pauses, momentary fragments of cohesion marking inter-subjective experiences on foot. Within earshot underexposed moments emerge, punctuating journeys that influence mobility in the city. Temporal and subtle graduations of light, tone and materiality of objects fuse together with architectural spaces and communal activities to form ocular identities. Thus activating discourse about structural division, planning processes and heritage in and around the Arabian Peninsula.


David Kendall's practice explores how spatial, economic and design initiatives, as well as participatory practices, combine to encourage social and spatial interconnections or dissonance in cities. Kendall utilises visual archives, mapping, events and embodied experiences to activate and generate his photographic, film and site-specific projects.

His photographs, spatial research and collaborative projects have been exhibited and presented internationally including the British Library, London, UK, Jüdisches Museum, Berlin, Germany, Akademin Valand, Göteborg, Sweden, Centro Cultural Manuel Gómez Morín, Santiago de Queretaro, Mexicó, Tate Britain, London, UK, Københavns Universitet, Copenhagen, Denmark, University of Oxford, UK, Southbank Centre London, UK, Galerie Ruberl, Vienna, Austria, University of Cambridge, UK, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK, Bogotá Arte Contemporáneo, Bogotá, Colombia, Institut français, London, UK, the Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK and ETNOFILm / Ethnographic Museum of Istria, Rovinj, Croatia. Kendall is a visiting research fellow within the Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.