(wwl) wastelands: standing in awe 3/3

January 21, 2015 § 2 Comments

This is the 3rd and last part of a blog post I had written one or two years ago for a friend’s magazine and never published. It’s a gathering of thoughts about the feeling of fascination prompted by wastelands, abandoned places, sites that had once been threaded by life and are now completely empty, or seem to be.
1) Exploring frontiers
2) Contemplating death
3) Staring at the Uncanny
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Staring at the uncanny

I think what engulfs us the most when walking around a derelict site is that we can physically experience the uncanny. Where the familiar becomes unfamiliar. Where you can tell people have lived and what they have done because you know the function of the place, and yet you cannot even see their ghosts.

The places we talk about are often left open and vacuous. Yet, they will always and forever belong to an unseizable dimension, they hold secrets we will never be able to crack out. They stand in a fragile shell, impregnated with people’s feelings and stories that will never surface again. Only our imagination can insufflate life into relics, or pretend to do so.

Sven Fennema, Trapped in Solitude, from “Habitat” series

Sven Fennema, Trapped in Solitude, from “Habitat” series

Here we are now. Crossing a frontier, looking at death and musing. Here we are now, walking in the steps of whoever we dare to imagine. And does it make us feel more alive?
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To know more about Aurélien Villette aka Adonis’s work, please visit: http://www.adonis-photografic.com/
To know more about Sven Fennema’s work, please visit: http://www.sven-fennema.de/

(wwl) wastelands: standing in awe 2/3

January 21, 2015 § 2 Comments

This is the 2nd part of a blog post I had written one or two years ago for a friend’s magazine and never published. It’s a gathering of thoughts about the feeling of fascination prompted by wastelands, abandoned places, sites that had once been threaded by life and are now completely empty, or seem to be.
1) Exploring frontiers
2) Contemplating death
3) Staring at the Uncanny
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Contemplating death

Part of our fascination, I believe, comes from the fact that contemplating abandoned industrial sites forces us to watch death in the face: where there once was life, now there is nothing left.

What we are actually faced with is our own death. Entering modern ruins equals contemplating our own decay. Most of these places were built less than a century ago and could have still been in use. They are not. They have been abandoned and most of the time, have been reclaimed by nature. This reminds us of what we fear the most: disappearance and oblivion. How could such buildings, who have seen men and women working to their erection, sheltered communities, enjoyed the presence of the living, decay that fast? By staring at cracked walls, rusty machines and broken windows, listening to the wind in the leaves, we meet our worst enemy: time.

Aurelien Villette, from “La renaissance” series

Aurelien Villette, from “La renaissance” series

So there is emptiness, there is obsolescence, there is what we fear the most: loss of control. So, is this what our postmodern world will look like? Will we eventually be engulfed into nature? And yet, who could call a decayed hospital, a ruined opera house, a collapsed gymnasium totally dead and empty?

(Read Part III – Staring at the Uncanny here)

(wwl) wastelands: standing in awe 1/3

January 21, 2015 § 2 Comments

I am sharing here a blog post I had written one or two years ago for a friend’s magazine and never published. It’s a gathering of thoughts about the feeling of fascination prompted by wastelands, abandoned places, sites that had once been threaded by  life and are now completely empty. Or, are they?
This falls into 3 “parts”:
1) Exploring frontiers
2) Contemplating death
3) Staring at the Uncanny
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As far as I can remember, I have long hold a compelling fascination for abandoned places, industrial relics, wastelands. I believe I am not the only one, as more and more people reveal their thrill to explore these sorts of spaces, mainly through photographs, but also through actual visits. I wish to illustrate my reflection with the work of two photographers: Aurélien Villette and Sven Fennema.

Aurélien Villette, from “L’architecture oubliée” series

Aurélien Villette, from “L’architecture oubliée” series

The feeling awakening inside me when I walk into an abandoned place is almost impossible to describe. It is a mixture of thrill and passion, yet of fear and oppression. I daresay I watch them in awe, in the literal sense of the word. Here I am trying to understand why, today, so many people are eager to discover places that have been left to rot.

Exploring frontiers

We are explorers. If we were to be described, one would say Man is bound to go further and unveil mysteries. The unknown is fearful yet attractive. Today, most of the world have been mapped and confined. What is left for us to explore than what is not mapped any longer, then?

Sven Fennema, Endless Green, from “Over and Done” series

Sven Fennema, Endless Green, from “Over and Done” series

Places that have been left to decay possess the dimension of the unknown provided by the past. If we can’t tell our future, nor can we tell what happened in the past in one place unless we read or were specifically told about it. In industrial wastelands, we come to explore not only space but also time. We stand at a crossroads. Not only do we bring life into a dead spot by our own physical presence, but we also reach a frontier between life and death by facing what had once been alive.

(Read part II “Contemplating death” here).

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