Pictures of decay and ruin
January 18, 2015 5:42 AM   Subscribe

 
Sometimes I think I could move into a place like these and be perfectly happy spending my time contemplating the history and the stories they hold.

This one, seems impossible... staged, perhaps.... If I walked into that setting I would assume I was on a set for "Gotham"...
posted by HuronBob at 5:55 AM on January 18, 2015


These are fantastic pictures, makes me want to rob a bank to gently bring some of them back to life.
posted by arcticseal at 6:31 AM on January 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


These are fantastic pictures, makes me want to rob a bank to gently bring some of them back to life.

you'll notice that most of these are of pre-WWII staircases. building a stair case the works right and looks good requires a lot of very skilled labor. these staircases are snapshots of a time when labor was extremely cheap for the people paying for the staircase.

it's ironic and perhaps appropriate that these are from the former GDR... you don't have to rob a bank, you need to rob the people doing the work.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:43 AM on January 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


This one, seems impossible... staged, perhaps....

Yeah, it does look like a bad or odd CGI render, but it's probably just the odd perspective. And who leaves a piano behind?! The world is so weird at times.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:47 AM on January 18, 2015


Yep, it was the piano that triggered the reaction for me as well.. so, I did a google search for "piano abandoned old house"...

Amazing! ... the world is full of left behind pianos! Who would have known??
posted by HuronBob at 7:00 AM on January 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've bought two houses that came with leftover pianos; they're a pain to move and take up way too much room.
posted by octothorpe at 7:06 AM on January 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


It might not be staged. I have a friend who photographs abandoned buildings as a hobby and he has gotten some great shots of very strange things that were left behind that you wouldn't expect.
posted by Librarypt at 7:07 AM on January 18, 2015


you'll notice that most of these are of pre-WWII staircases. building a stair case the works right and looks good requires a lot of very skilled labor. these staircases are snapshots of a time when labor was extremely cheap for the people paying for the staircase.

it's ironic and perhaps appropriate that these are from the former GDR... you don't have to rob a bank, you need to rob the people doing the work.


Pre-WWII Germany origin kinds of precludes anti-communist axe grinding. If anything their preservation all the way to today was a function of communism's lack of Schumpeter's Gale.
posted by srboisvert at 7:10 AM on January 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


In any given week you can go to Craig's List and find at least one FREE PIANO, but the catch is that you've gotta come move it. And because pianos are super bulky and heavy AND kind of precise and delicate at the same time, moving one correctly is more involved than throwing it on a dolly and tipping it onto the back of a truck. And a piano is like any other instrument, sometimes people will buy one and wind up never actually playing it, so yeah... a lot of them get left behind.
posted by usonian at 7:11 AM on January 18, 2015


If you liked these (and I did!) you may also want to see these.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:19 AM on January 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is a magnificence, strength and grandeur that speaks louder than the decay.
posted by Sir Rinse at 7:20 AM on January 18, 2015


I find it interesting that the almost morbid fascination of Romanticism with ruin and decay, especially architectural, is still with us after several centuries...
posted by jim in austin at 7:27 AM on January 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


In some cases, it seems to speak clearer because of the decay.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:27 AM on January 18, 2015


I never thought of spiral staircases as looking so much like perfect fractals, but this person seems really good at photographing them that way.

I think that "impossible" photo with the piano is also highly HDR-ized so it feels fake because camera lenses can't capture that much range of light without tricks.
posted by mathowie at 7:30 AM on January 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ruin and decay is the only aesthetic guaranteed to outlast humanity.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:33 AM on January 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Please don't be Detroit, please don't be Detroit...

...and now I travel around Europe looking for abandoned staircases.

Whew.
posted by Etrigan at 7:48 AM on January 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Pre-WWII Germany origin kinds of precludes anti-communist axe grinding. If anything their preservation all the way to today was a function of communism's lack of Schumpeter's Gale.

Jeez... I thought I was being stridently communist. the irony comes from the ruins of 19th century capitalism preserved in the ruins of a 20th century 'people's republic'

Ruin and decay is the only aesthetic guaranteed to outlast humanity.

but it's a specific ideology. it's always the aesthetic of decayed grandeur. you can see Albert Speer in the 19th century romantic paintings of greek and roman ruins.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:21 AM on January 18, 2015


Loved these, thanks Brandon Blatcher!
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 9:25 AM on January 18, 2015


I think that "impossible" photo with the piano is also highly HDR-ized so it feels fake because camera lenses can't capture that much range of light without tricks.

They're all HDR victims... I'd certainly prefer to see less post production on these.
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:14 AM on January 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hope one isn't walking around alone in these dilapidated spaces. The last thing needed is a grievous injury with no one to help.
posted by Renoroc at 10:15 AM on January 18, 2015


These are fun to look at.

When I think of big old staircases in empty buildings I think of The Bradbury Building, featured prominently in Blade Runner, 500 Days of Summer, The Artist, and others.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:34 AM on January 18, 2015


Uzumaki.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 11:01 AM on January 18, 2015


I think that "impossible" photo with the piano is also highly HDR-ized so it feels fake because camera lenses can't capture that much range of light without tricks.

Yes, there's a lot of post-processing, so things seem dream-like: too smooth and well-lit. Also, the artist's wide-angle lens lets you see much more than you would if you were there. The result reminds me of the game Amnesia: the dark descent; everything seems just a bit off.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:11 AM on January 18, 2015


I take photos of abandoned places also. Interesting sidebar on HDR: seems to be this is similar to the older debates about film vs digital for movies and still photography.

Post processing with digital allows just about any kind of "look" one prefers. I see lots of overblown use of HDR, but when it's not over-tweaked--like the photos in this essay--it's a finer point.

It's kind of like saying, "This photograph captures close to all of the dynamic range and color definition my eye sees, but I know that a photograph isn't (before present times) capable of capturing that range...so there's something wrong here...."

So perhaps even though the (skillful) HDR photograph is closer to what the eye sees, there is a mental incongruence/memory that throws up some kind of "fake" flag....
posted by CrowGoat at 11:22 AM on January 18, 2015


The colors and saturation are so off it kind of bothers me. On one hand you're trying to capture decay and breakdown, but on the other you're using so much ostentatious post processing to "beautify" it. The goals seem at odds.
posted by Ferreous at 1:08 PM on January 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I loved taking pictures of abandoned places in the early 70's - so much accidental beauty - but stopped when I found out I was just creating a heap of cliches. Well, here it is, years later, and people haven't stopped.

Mr. Encylopedia said it best above: Ruin and decay is the only aesthetic guaranteed to outlast humanity.
posted by kozad at 1:29 PM on January 18, 2015


I'm expecting in a couple decades to see similar photo shoots of Silicon Valley.
posted by happyroach at 2:12 PM on January 18, 2015


I'm a huge fan of ruin and decay, which is why I adore taking selfies.
posted by sonascope at 2:24 PM on January 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


All the spiral staircases seem to be in pretty good condition. Are they, because of their construction, stronger or more stable than an open staircase? It looks so to me due to their helical nature, but what I know about the physics of making things would fit in a flea's ear.
posted by bryon at 10:01 PM on January 18, 2015


More likely there's a selection effect: spiral staircases are so weak that they don't survive unless they're in good condition; regular staircases often stay standing by force of gravity alone.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:05 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older Runs smiling face infinitely looped   |   Road trip Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments