“What is a ruin, after all? It is a human construction abandoned to nature, and one of the allures of ruins in the city is that of wilderness: a place full of the promise of the unknown with all its epiphanies and dangers. Cities are built by Man, but they decay by nature, from earthquakes and hurricanes to the incremental processes of rot, erosion, rust and microbial breakdown of concrete, stone, wood and brick, the return of plants and animals making their own complex order that further dismantles the simple order of men.”
– “A Field Guide to Being Lost”
From the time I got hooked on photo taking, I became aware of the innate attraction to things of old, abandonment, ruin, or just things which could have been typically overlooked in a normal person’s daily life, hence relegating that object to the realms of abandonment.
Examples would include lone fire hydrants in the middle of green fields, or in the midst of towering office buildings. Clock towers. Cracks in the wall. Weeds growing out of those cracks. Old windows. Back alleys. Crates and boxes. Faded curtains. Places soon to be demolished.
Why do these objects and scenes hold such charm? What is it about the beauty an object or scene of abandonment holds?
These days, the word “vintage” has become somewhat of a brand name. Goods and apparel with that word attached to them can sometimes fetch prices higher than brand new counterparts. Again, it seems to be a testament to the beauty of abandonment. And interestingly, it seems to be characteristic of the developed world. We wouldn’t see (or imagine) a villager from rural areas hankering after that which has been labeled “vintage”, would we?
Perhaps, bombarded with a landscape which changes too quickly, and a mass of affluence everywhere, that desire to explore things which fall outside the shiny and new, outside the facade of perfection, becomes awakened. And that awakening manifests in the wearing of vintage apparel, in the decorating of one’s house as it might have been in the 60s, in the capturing of scenes of abandonment through the lens of a camera.
“Ruins become the unconscious of a city, it’s memory, unknown, darkness, lost lands, and in this truly bring it to life.”
The shiny and new certainly have their own allure and charm, but perhaps what is most charming about them is that they serve to highlight the soul of ruins, the beauty of abandonment, the lost potentials of what could have been.