This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a bronchial spasm. That is, at least, according to William Delisle Hay’s 1880 novella The Doom of the Great City. It imagines the entire population of London choked to death under a soot-filled fog. The story is told by the event’s lone survivor sixty years later as he recalls “the greatest calamity that perhaps this earth has ever witnessed” at what was, for Hay’s first readers, the distant future date of 1942. -- Brett Beasley in the Public Domain review on one of the first modern urban apocalypse stories.
Abandoned Silverdome Becomes BMX Dream Playground - Watch the final session that will shut down the abandoned stadium outside Detroit. Includes photos. (previously)
The lost city of Ordos The Kangbashi district, planned to accommodate a population in excess of one million, is home to a lonely 20,000 people – leaving 98% of this 355-square kilometre site either under construction or abandoned altogether.
Watch some U-238 decay in real time. The sample is placed in an alcohol cloud chamber, and transilluminated by a strip of LEDs. Hypnotic, after a while. After about 40 minutes, the sample begins to be coated by alcohol fumes and many of the emissions are absorbed on the surface.
" I mostly photograph empty buildings with great staircases inside. I simply adore old decaying architecture, their patterns and textures – they remind me that everything is impermanent."
But if you look at a Shitpic, you can instantly tell the level of virality by how worn it looks, how legible its text is, how many watermarks adorn it. You can count them much like you would rings on a tree. A pristine-looking meme engenders skepticism—“This can’t be that funny, it hasn’t been imperfectly replicated enough.”The Awl on the rise of the shitpic.
“Nature is stronger than technology, and that I will show here,” said Michael, who has no doubt succeeded in displaying the power of nature that triumphs over even some of the most revered examples of man-made machinery.
GooBing Detroit: chronological photosets of houses and streets in Detroit from 2009 to 2013, made with the aid of Google Street View and Bing StreetSide. [more inside]
Moths, spiders, mushrooms, foxes and other Lewis Carroll-ian delights stuffed and mounted for your delight and safety by the self-taught artist Mister Finch
Architecture of Doom is a Tumblr that collects images of "bleak/ gloomy/ forbidding/ desolate/ unfortunate and totalitarian architecture" from sources like Fuck Yeah Brutalism and Failed Architecture. The latter bills itself as a "research platform that aims to open up new perspectives on urban failure – from what it’s perceived to be, what’s actually happening and how it’s represented to the public" and offers some interesting essays and case studies – for example: Hotel Jugoslavija: Spacio-temporal Mosaics of Memorabilia, Function Follows Form: How Berlin Turns Horror Into Beauty, and The Poetry of Decay.
In 1994, Douglas Davis [personal blog] created The World's First Collaborative Sentence. Last summer, The Whitney Museum faced a new challenge: what happens to digital art when the technology becomes obsolete? [more inside]
"After two to three hours, the body is transformed into a sterile coffee-colored liquid the consistency of motor oil that can be safely poured down the drain, alongside a dry bone residue similar in appearance to cremated remains." GOOD magazine: The emergence of the sustainable death industry.
Michel Blazy is a French artist who "attempts to create multi-sensorial and changing spaces and sculptures to show the uncertainties of our condition". His Post Patman show in 2007 was truly designed to be experienced by all senses, designed with "the organic, the perishable, the mould-making." Some was pretty benign, like the atomic mushroom made of 91 kilos of soy noodles and the chocolate chickens. Then there are the piles of rotting orange peel halves and the truly fragrant wall painted with mashed potatoes and beetroot purée. His newest installation was much more pleasing to the senses: Bouquet Final was a wall of foam fountains in a 13th century structure, le Collège des Bernardins. More of Blazy's work at Galerie Art Concept.
Because they protect young trees from wind, animal browsers, and weather, abandoned and open silos can sometimes make an excellent tree habitat. Silo Trees: NYT, flickr pool, Missouri Department of Conservation, TGAW, Ken Wolf
Grossinger's Hotel used to be one of the most popular resorts in the Catskill region of New York State. The resort served as a playing ground for the famous stars of the time like Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Robinson. But, like most things, its popularity faded and by 1986 it closed its doors forever. It has remained abandoned ever since. (Buzzfeed, Now and Then photos)
"The perishing of fabrics and the rotting of early rubber, due to chemical instabilities and damp conditions, create new and sinister, puzzling abnormalities. Time and repeated wear have caused a beautiful metamorphosis, never intended or imagined by the maker." Haunted Air: "A glimpse of how the old, weird America celebrated All-Hallows Eve."
St. Peter's was a seminary built near Cardross, on the outskirts of Glasgow. It is remarkable for its modernist design, the architects having drawn significant inspiration from Le Corbusier's brutalist monastery at La Tourette, and has been A-listed by Historic Scotland. During its construction, the Second Vatican Council recommended that priests should be trained and educated in the communities they were to serve; the quasi-monastic setting of St. Peter's thus meant it was obsolescent before its completion. Although it was briefly adapted to serve as a rehabilitation centre for drug abusers, it was abandoned in the 80s and, by 2008, found itself on the World Monument Foundation's list of most endangered sites (PDF, see p.58). There has been recent talk of the Scottish Government funding a £10m restoration project, but it is not entirely clear if the restoration is intended to turn the building into an arts centre, a museum or an 'intentional modernist ruin'. [more inside]
In 1976, in response to NASA's development of the Space Shuttle, the USSR began it's own reusable launcher program, the Buran (Snowstorm), based at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in what is now Kazakhstan. [more inside]
Urban exploration has been featured here once or twice before, but Jim Griffioen's site photo-documenting his discoveries in and around Detroit deserves a look. Griffioen was recently interviewed [direct mp3 link] on the American Public Media radio program The Story. [more inside]
Julia Solis, who brought us Dark Passage (previously), is still exploring derelict sites, both subterranean and in urban decay. Her most recent project is Abandoned Theaters, a look at grand old movie palaces, school auditoriums, and theaters that have become, shall we say, retired. Julia still keeps a photoblog that she calls Dark Passage Travelogue, and partnering with Suzy Poling, she chronicles the decrepitude of hospitals long abandoned in Fantastic Degradation.
When thousands of people depart, leaving an entire city dead that’s a real tragedy. There are mainly two reasons why people leave the place where they used to live for years or even generations: danger, and economic factors. Abandoned Places In The World. ( previously 1,2)
HotBits is an Internet resource that brings genuine random numbers, generated by a process fundamentally governed by the inherent uncertainty in the quantum mechanical laws of nature, directly to your computer in a variety of forms. HotBits are generated by timing successive pairs of radioactive decays detected by a Geiger-Müller tube interfaced to a computer. (Warning: random sounds.)
"The city is so cash-strapped that firefighters have to purchase their own toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Their aging bunker gear is coated in carbon, 'making them the equivalent of walking matchsticks.' The firehouses' brass poles have been removed and sold off by the city." - The City Where the Sirens Never Sleep by Matt Labash.
Blairmont: The Final Dose. Yesterday Rob Powers of Built St. Louis (prev.) completed a 189-post tour of the North St. Louis properties bought and left to ruin by developer Paul McKee's Blairmont Associates LLC. Residents trying to rebuild in this area have had to deal with nearby Blairmont properties catching fire, collapsing due to brick rustlers, and obstructing their efforts to improve their own homes. Four years this has been going on and still nobody knows what McKee is up to. Much more information at Ecology of Absence.
Perhaps you think you've had your fill of photographs of decaying architecture and abandoned buildings. If so, the rich color and play of light in Michael Eastman's beautiful body of work from Cuba, Europe, and the U.S. may change your mind. His site is flash - for non-flash folks, the Duane Reed Gallery has additional works, including his B&W portfolios on horses, landscapes, and succulents. (no relation to the Kodak family; via BB-Blog)
Keith Thorne has stunningly colored pictures of decaying urban spaces on his Flickr stream, including some taken at an abandoned German military hospital that once treated Adolf Hitler. A few pictures feature himself. Via.
State of decay :"Over the years, Boston artist Rosamond Purcell has photographed goliath beetles and translucent bats culled from the backrooms of natural history museums; a collection of teeth pulled by Peter the Great; moles flayed by naturalist Willem Cornelis van Heurn; and scores of worn and weathered objects, like termite-eaten books and fish skeletons."
"This is a building where our deeply-troubled public school system once stored its supplies, and then one day apparently walked away from it all, allowing everything to go to waste...All that's left is an overwhelming sense of knowledge unlearned and untapped potential." (Via Making Light.)
Russos takes photos of Moscow Metro construction. Also of a half-abandoned river port, a cool bridge being put together, and an old underground nuclear submarine base. But mostly of the Metro, behind the scenes. (Don't ask me how he gets access.) [more inside]
Dead Road - Museum of Communism in the Open. "It was one of the most ambitious projects of the Stalin era, known as the 'railway of bones'. At least 10 people a day died during the four years of its construction [actually 1947-1953], but unlike most of Uncle Joe's grand designs it was never completed and now sits unfinished in the tundra, an icy road to nowhere." The transpolar railway was built by labour camps^ 501 and 503 and construction was stopped after the amnesty following Stalin's death in 1953; 800km, about half, was built. Some sections are currently in operation, but much is abandoned: depot and locomotives in Dolgoe, Dolgoe itself, labour camps, more spectacular decay. (Previously: Norilsk, which was supposed to see an extension of the line.)
Chippewa Lake Park is a former amusement park in Ohio; opened in 1878, it closed in 1978 due to lack of attendance. During the decades since then, the ballroom, roller coasters & other rides have lain abandoned as the surrounding forest reclaims them.
The National Automobile Slum: I propose that we now identify the human ecology of America precisely for what it really has become: the national automobile slum.-- James Howard Kunstler “Can America Survive Suburbia?”
Despite the occasional cheesy superimposed nude (nsfw), for the most part this photo series of images taken by Charles Bodi inside a decaying thermal generating station is quite nice; my personal favorite.
EFF Accuses AT&T of diverting internet traffic to NSA. "More than just threatening individuals' privacy, AT&T's apparent choice to give the government secret, direct access to millions of ordinary Americans' Internet communications is a threat to the Constitution itself. We are asking the Court to put a stop to it now." More details from the EFF.
While reading up on the Detroit City Council's latest brainstorm, African Town, I stumbled upon this blog that highlights many of the once great, now decaying buildings of my former hometown. If you've ever wondered what was inside some of those ancient, boarded up buildings, there are some great photos here.
Things Fall Apart. Particularly in urban environments. Individually, the moments of entropy-in-action caught here may not mean much; collectively, they recite a visual poem about decay. A slightly melancholy site for you insomniacs out there. (By the way, you have to scroll right to get to the thumbnails.)
Interview with the certified forensic entomologist. In other words she examines insects in dead bodies for criminal investigations. Its good to know that there are dedicated professionals doing this just in case I happen to wash up on the shores of Lake Michigan. Hey, it could happen to any of us.