(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)

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