There’s nothing inherently romantic about an escalator (it’s moving steps for goodness sake) and yet that doesn’t stop these mundane parts of our everyday lives assuming certain cultural characteristics. Maybe it’s because in our turbo-charged, techno-centric world, the escalator is a defined time period where all we need to do is stand and stare at those passing us in the opposite direction, or just lose ourselves in indulgent reverie. Most urbanites will recognise the momentary thrill of falling in love with a passing hottie as your lives cross for a few seconds, plunging in opposite directions; almost certainly never to meet again.
Australian photographer Paul Batt is equally fascinated by this world – so much so that he created a series of Escalator Portraits shot covertly at a local mall. “The shopping centre is both a point of civic focus and transient space that isolates the individual,” Paul explains.
“I tried to show this longingness and the need for connection, as strangers randomly pass one another in opposing directions of momentary ascent or descent. The intention of these series was to create an in-depth and humane portrait of unknown subjects, that existed outside the portrait traditional paradigm.”
There’s something really reflective about these shots, although I might feel a bit self conscious next time I’m heading down to the Tube.