(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
___

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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