The Bulger Case - a Spatial Story


While working on the Mapping the City in Film project in 2010 it occured to me that one of Liverpool's on-screen locations that is likely to have been seen by more people than any other (with the probable exception of the two football stadia) is the Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, as captured in grainy CCTV images that have been mediated and remediated endlessly since their first appearance in 1993. This realisation, coupled with the publication in the Liverpool Echo of a map of the abduction route along which James Bulger and his killers walked (from the Strand to the railway tracks in Walton), sparked the idea for a project that was designed in part as an attempt to ground and localise the spatial story linked to the Bulger killing as well as to provoke discussion and debate of the Bulger case as a spatial story. The 40 minute video (in five parts here on YouTube) is a single unbroken shot following the abduction route. The 'cinemapping' method employed in the making of the video is a performative and site-specific mode of spatial engagement that embraces happenstance and the flow and flux of the ambulant body, invoking (or provoking) as much as observing what unfolds. The video should ideally be viewed alongside the written outputs that emerged from this project: an article published in The Cartographic Journal in 2014 (access here), or more recently, a chapter in the 2018 monograph Spatial Anthropology: Excursions in Liminal Space.