The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Plywood Universe
An attempt at an explanationThe Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2) by Douglas Adams
Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon. Adaptations have included stage shows, a "trilogy" of five books published between 1979 and 1992 and in 1981 a TV series, radio adaptations of the third, fourth, and fifth novels were broadcast from 2004 to 2005. While writing the first episode, Adams realized that he needed someone on the planet who was an alien to provide some context, and that this alien needed a reason to be there. Adams finally settled on making the alien a roving researcher for a "wholly remarkable book" named The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
The photographs have been taken over the past 3 years whilst I have been working in Plymouth. Most were taken without any particular project in mind, later ones were conceived to complete the book.
The Plywood Universe
For me coming to work in Plymouth is like entering a parallel universe where most thing are similar but somehow 'wrong'. Things that are important in the outside world have little value in Plymouth. Things that are regarded as critical in Plymouth do not play a part elsewhere.
Time seems to have stopped somewhere in the last century and the way I and most other photographers work has yet to make an impact in what I now see as the Plywood Universe.
In the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect is stranded in what for him is an alien world, researching for 'The Guide'.
I too feel like a visitor to an alternative world.
This body of work is my somewhat bemused guide to the Plywood Universe. Most of the text in the book is taken from one or other versions of 'The Guide', some has been adapted.
Just as the original H2G2 started in one format (radio) and then transferred to other media so The Plywood Universe has now also evolved from a set of photographs, to a book, a video, this website and of course a T shirt.
Interestingly (to me anyway) none of the hardware (cameras and computers ) or software used to create The Plywood Universe is actually available to students in Plymouth. So much of what you see here would be difficult and some impossible to achieve in the restricted working environment of the university. This is a shame because all the software I used is open source and free from any cost and could easily be made available.