Category Archives: Urbex

Focusing in

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my most recent urban exploration experience, with the paintballers and the dust.  One of the things I really love about this is entering a space that is so much the opposite of a “blank canvas” that it’s become one all over again.

I like the discovery of impenetrable artifacts, like this:

This was in what seems to have been some kind of lab in the Bethlehem Steel office on Buffalo. I like how the careful script has such a deliberate period.

Then there are control rooms, where every dial and every gauge once meant something significant.

And now it’s flaking paint and windows to nothing, switches without signal.

There are a lot of reasons people do urban exploration — the possibility of discovering some forgotten gem, the aesthetics of decay, the thrill of being somewhere forbidden and possibly dangerous, the poignant narratives of lives lived and forgotten embedded in dust-covered papers outlining orders for steel pipes.

Part of it for me is the sense of massive power stilled:

And sometimes it’s what I recall from the dim recesses of my lit theory courses is called das unheimliche or something like that — when homely or workaday objects acquire a sense of creepiness, because of how they’re situated or how we suddenly see them.  Like this forgotten typewriter, which still clacked.

And sometimes, for me, it’s just about finding light …

…in unexpected places.

Light that transforms, and nudges me into noticing.