In the early 1950s, British culture was dominated by welfare-state visions of urban reconstruction. These projections of a stable civic society were premised on a particular way of looking at and reading the metropolitan environment. At odds with this project, the Independent Group's discussions and collaborative work developed an alternative urban semiology, which found the city to be already rich in visual resources for fashioning a more profound form of social democracy. Soon, this critical engagement would develop in different directions, represented here by Lawrence Alloway's commentary on Piccadilly Circus in his essay 'City Notes' and the London footage inserted by John McHale into his film for the Smithsons' Berlin Hauptstadt project (both 1959). By the end of the 1950s, members of the erstwhile Independent Group had produced two contrasting critical accounts of how the metropolitan centre should be looked at, which challenged the strictures of post-war reconstruction in distinct and conflicting ways. © The Author(s), 2013.
Hornsey, R. (2013). The independent group looks at London's west end. Journal of Visual Culture, 12(2), 292-312. https://doi.org/10.1177/1470412913488756