I have to say I agree with Ed. My fascination with a decaying/dilapidated structure also arises from my curiosity about what could have been happening when the structure was at it's prime - I try to visualize what the occupants could have been like, what type of life they could have been living. It is very nostalgic.
Last year I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the famous Taj Mahal and other historic structures nearby. Although the Taj is very well preserved, there are some other very interesting structures that are not so. And these are buildings that are many hundreds of years old. It is so nostalgic, and sometimes so sad.
B&W is far better at depicting squalor than colour, be it slum conditions, war or decay. Somehow colour is just too every day. It sounds odd, but some things just don't look right in colour. We had a TV series in Britain recently called "WWII in colour". I suppose we are more used to seeing it in B&W, but the footage just looked wrong. In the same way, would a Charlie Chaplin film look right in colour?
They are a connection, to our own past, to a people we may not know...but want to. They remind us of our own past, depending upon our age, what once was. I often wonder what was it like 'new' what did the pople do, what did they think, what were their joys, hardships and sorrows. Were they pretty much like us, or did they have little material things and a harvest of non-material things. How did they get there and how long did it take, where did they come from? What was the trip like - was it in a car, a train, a wagon. Did the people that came and went, know any of my own relatives...were they part of my own past. What did the land look like then?
They are questions, unanswered and they are answers to questions yet ask. And many times they are returning to the earth, as most things do...except hot-dogs and twinkies of course..didn't want to get to serious...
"An rundown abandoned restaurant with a faded, handpainted sign that says "EATS" is more emotionally and visually enagaging than another spanking new McDonald's."
And, if you find old & dried out food in the back room dating to the time the restaurant was open it would taste better than McDonalds today.
For me it's the story, unseen as it may be.
Someone asked me once (looking at a drawing I did from a photo I took in college) "how come you do empty buildings, there's no people." I think I said something like, "there's hords of people here, it's an old bus station so imagine the thousands that passed through here, the places they traveled, people they went to see, etc."
Same reason I like to use older cameras. Who might have used them? What travels had they been on? What images they may have taken and had I perhaps seen them?
Matt's Photo Site
"I invent nothing, I rediscover". Auguste Rodin
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
The 1970 Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction: The Denial of Death, also would flesh out the bones of our fascination with decay. Since Wabi-Sabi is ingrained in Japanese culture do their web sites suggest the poignent appreciatation of the simple, the broken, the repaired, the ignored?
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren is an excellent intro. Beauty is in a handmade object (think darkroom) vs something manufactured & perfect (think digital). Perfection is actually an illusion, and as things decay their imperfections become manifest. And the decay suggest the natural forces,
A sampling of thoughts from an excellent book for all artists.
They record the sun, wind, rain, heat. and cold in a language of discoloration, rust, tarnish, stain, warping, shrinking ....(and) are a testament to histories of use and misuse. Though things wabi-sabi may be on point of dematerialization ... they still possess an undiminished poise and strength of character
van Huyck Photo
"Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"
It is about a couple of things to me, both already touched upon. Old structures and machines seem to radiate a certain character or history not unlike that of a person. The fascination there lies in the what was.
The second thing for me is the idea that all man made things will eventually turn to dust. For me, recording process of decay reminds me that life here is fleeting and that no matter how successful our struggle to survive and make our mark, nature and time will always win out.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
I don't know...
...what the fascination is-although I've taken B&W shots of a disused building-but the reason I use B&W in that situation is it seems to make the building appear older.
A common mistake people made when designing something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
Computers are incredibly stupid,but they are capable of being incredibly stupid many millions of times a second.
Both said by Doug Adams
Only put off until tomorrow that which you are prepared to die having not done-Pablo Picasso
Old structures have far more character than the run-of-the-mill modern ones. Bricks, stone, wood have intrinsic local patterns and imperfections. This develops more local contrast, more things to see. Something is more pleasing about their style too.
A nearby town had a big fire just this last Friday night that destroyed nearly all of its historic downtown buildings. Most were 100+ years old. Of course, the structures are damaged beyond repair and will have to be demolished. The town council announced the following morning that they will rebuild this section because "it is our town's character". Three Cheers for Fort Scott, Ks!