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Urban Exploration: A Contemporary Introduction

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Urban exploration. Photo by Matthew Passmore

Presented by Phil P. Phil and de Young Artist Fellows Sean Orlando and Matthew Passmore (Rebar)
moderated by Annetta Black, Atlas Obscura
presented with Black Rock Arts Foundation

For decades, a particular brand of urban explorer has felt compelled to delve into the unseen and underground layers of city infrastructure. Guided by a sense of adventure and a desire for a broader understanding of the systems that support contemporary urban life, these explorations often reveal as much about the explorer as the territory explored. What is it about these unseen structures that so captures the imagination? Does this obscured geography map an unknown within us as well? What can the exploration teach us, a self-identified evolving species of surface dweller, about the various systems that make up our built and “natural” world? Can we hope to improve or recontextualize the interwoven social and ecological fabrics that make up our environment? 

Join the Black Rock Arts Foundation and de Young Artist Fellows Sean Orlando and Rebar for an afternoon of conversation and multimedia presentations that explore these questions and other topics related to the contemporary practice of urban exploration. This event is part of Urbanauts, Sean Orlando and Rebar’s ongoing de Young Fellowship project, which maps, examines, and documents unseen urban infrastructure to inform a series of conceptualized and fabricated objects based on the aesthetics and function of these hidden systems.  

Black Rock Arts Foundation
The mission of the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) is to support and promote community, interactive art, and civic participation. Through their major programs, Grants to Artists and Civic Arts, BRAF works with communities in the Bay Area and around the world to collaboratively produce innovative, relevant, and pioneering works of public art that build community and empower individuals. Founded by several of the original producers who founded and continue to produce Burning Man, an annual arts festival in the Nevada desert, to date BRAF has supported over 90 projects worldwide. The art experienced at Burning Man invites individuals to interact with both the work itself and with their community at large, inspiring civic participation and engendering meaningful connections between individuals. BRAF was established to bring this modality of creating and coexisting with art to the rest of the world.

Ticket Information

Admission is free and open to the public. Gallery tickets are neither included nor required.


The Artist Fellows project has been generously funded by the James Irvine Foundation's Innovation Fund and the Institute of Museum and Library Services/Museums for America.

Contact Information

Andrea Martin