Hide and Seek: The Dubious Nature of Plant Life in High Security Spaces (2012)

Hide and Seek is a landmark documentary photography project created by the photojournalist Adam Walker-Smith.

Instigated by his discovery of the landscape design programme Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, Walker-Smith realised that high security public spaces in London, which present themselves as being free and open, actually covertly guide behaviour through landscape design and monitor human activities through extensive surveillance infrastructure. The reason these things are not often observed is because they are carefully hidden and softened by the strategic deployment of vegetation. This illuminating finding led to what could only be described as Walker-Smith’s intense paranoia as to the ‘innocence’ of all plant life in these spaces. His resulting photographs dramatically expose what he sees as the ‘suspect’ plants of securitised urban spaces (so-called for posing as ‘innocent’ decoration whilst actually being hidden parts of the security apparatus).

Detailed on this page are excerpts from the photojournalist’s research into the use of plants by corporate landscape designers, accompanied by a select number of his photographic observations.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (a diagram)
The cover of the Hide and Seek research report by Adam Walker-Smith (2012). This is available to read online in it’s original version here
Adam Walker-Smith’s research has been covered in the following selected articles, books and exhibitions:

2017, Engaged Urbanism: Cities and Methologies (academic book published by I.B. Tauris)

2015, It’s Nice That, ‘Photographer Max Colson Captures Plant Life in the UK’s Most Secure Places’

2015, Royal Institute of British Architects, ‘Virtual Control: Security and the Urban Imagination’

2014 Urban Pamphleteer: Design and Trust

2014 Super Massive BlackHole magazine

2014 Brighton Photo Fringe OPEN14, Shortlisted

2013 Magenta Flash Forward 2013: Emerging Photographers from Canada, the UK and the USA (print)

2013 C/O Berlin: ‘My Secret Life’ International Open competition, Shortlisted

2013 Hotshoe International (online – interview by Matthew Oxley)