Based on an incredible untrue story

January 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Bodie, California is a ghost town. Or rather, it was a ghost town—now it is a historic park and tourist destination. It endures in a state of “arrested decay,” meaning that nothing can be newly constructed onsite, but neither are its standing buildings permitted to deteriorate any further. The state of California has suspended the town in its process of ruination, stabilizing its entropy and halting its decline.  If its decay is forestalled, its grounds rigorously maintained and its aesthetic carefully cultivated, can it be called a ghost town any longer?

Bodie is a former gold rush encampment located on the remote eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, a dozen miles from the Nevada state border. It was hastily populated in the late 19th century and just as hastily deserted in the early 20th century, leaving a husk of a settlement in its wake. The town boasted ten thousand residents in 1880 and none by the early 1940s, after the mines had dried up and a devastating fire had driven the last few residents away. What remained after its abandonment was a captivating ruin—miners’ coats still hanging on hooks in wooden cabins, books still piled up on pupils’ desks in the schoolhouse, beakers and test tubes intact in the pharmacy, dusty coffins in the undertaker’s studio, and an unfinished billiards game in the saloon.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Mac Adams

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Search a neglect. A sale, any greatness is a stall and there is no memory, there is no clear collection

February 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Needless to say, a building on this scale is a rarity of sorts anywhere in the world, but to find one in Japan really is something special — even more so for it to be long abandoned and left to the elements. Yet unlike many crumbling structures, it’s an absolute joy to walk around. Plus despite the decay, there’s none of the bleakness that often pervades such exploration.  read more

ART: Sol LeWitt

I asked him about the first and last sentences. They seem out of place in the larger context, I said, where crime and guilt don’t get mentioned

October 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Many of the American-produced images that arguably fall under the category of “ruin porn” are artifacts of buildings, industries, and communities that have been casualties of modern American capitalism, and especially the process of deindustrialization that has occurred in many American urban centers, which has been devastating to minorities and the urban poor. Many of these images have come out of the shell of the American Rust Belt, leading to criticisms on the part of some that the images do not do justice to either the historical context or the present state of these spaces – as evidence of rampant social inequality and a failed welfare state – and that the photographs essentially construct the present of the spaces as more ruined and abandoned then they really are, given that many people may still live in or near them. In essence, they are accused of constructing a romantically gritty and melancholic vision of a past that allows viewers to avoid the more unpleasant understandings of a present or the even less pleasant prospect of a future marked by the scars of social inequality.  read more

ART: Steve Kim

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