Strangers on the Tube (2016)

“Now you’re making me self-conscious”, says Spanish photographer Leinad Zeugirdor, confronted by his unseen interviewer on the morality of his underground activities. For the last six years, Zeugirdor has been stealing clandestine shots of his fellow travellers on the London Tube, and in the short documentary Strangers on the Tube, he shares a small selection of the monochrome ‘iPhonographs’, as well as his thoughts on Tube semiotics, the history of street photography and the ethics of snapping strangers in “an era of surveillance capitalism”.

With his still material now being presented in this moving format, Zeugirdor finds himself the self-conscious subject before someone else’s camera and gaze – except that Leinad Zeugirdor is the reverse anagram, alias and alter ego of Daniel Rodriguez, writer/director/editor/DP/composer and sideline star of this film, pseudonymising himself as a mirror to the issues of identity’s exploitation and protection that Strangers on the Tube foregrounds.

While some of Rodriguez’s photographs are of empty stairways, the vast majority are portraits taken on the sly. Many show their subjects also staring at their own phones, raising the possibility that they too are furtively shooting other people in the carriage. In interview, Zeugirdor points out that the only way any of his subjects will ever know that they have become someone else’s art is if they happen to find this film online. So there you have it: Strangers on the YouTube…

©Anton Bitel