Beauty in Decay,, which is reviewed in Dwell magazine, with a brief slide show.
In the course of architectural research for a writing project, my son, who has the good fortune to work in a library, brought home a book that he had to pry from my hands. Beauty in Decay is the companion piece to bottomless waters in my ambivalent heart.
Ruins took on new meaning for me when I read Thomas Moore's The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life. In his chapter, "Ruins and Memory," he speaks against restoration that tries to improve upon the past in the name of preservation. In our race toward the future, we have lost the enchantment of the unbuilding of a culture that, in his words, speaks to the soul.
"We try to repress ruins," he says, "especially in America, probably because we have little appreciation for failure, ending, and the past."
My son calls it the haunted house feeling, the chill that overtakes us, even as we are being pulled closer to the repellant beauty of life abandoned. The photos stir a response beyond words. Given enough time, impression may give way to vocabulary but the language will not arrange itself in any recognizable order. For now, it is enough to sink weightlessly into these chambers, these hallways, shells and skeletons. Even visited as images, distant from the spaces themselves, the rooms murmur with embeded memories. We are not strangers here.