Tuesday 5 October 2010

I used to be fascinated by urban decay as a sort of found art with a very distinctive aesthetic. There's a certain satisfaction in the sight of the kitschy artifacts of commerce and publicity falling into bits. A certain decadent grandeur in the sight of a heap of smashed automobiles, a wistful sadness in the discouraged but still elegant aspect of an old bungalow slowly rotting.

The most central attribute needed to appreciate this form of beauty is one of hope, I think. Of being able to see beyond the collapse of the past and the chaos of the present to a hoped-for and worked-towards better state. Without that vision, all one sees are the discarded skins of a serpentine civilization slithering its way down a spiral process of uglification and mindless change whose only byproduct is garbage.

I don't really have that sense of hope. Urban decay no longer seems like a bit of cool window dressing as we ascend to our various singularities. Instead, it reminds me that no matter how vast the future is, it becomes the past in the blink of an eye. Promise turns to failure before you even realise it's happening and that's the only constant truth that I can discern from these piles of twisted machinery that failed to remain new and improved past their sell-by date, these broken husks of dwellings that housed ways of life that we can only dream of in our high-rise middle-class slums, these useless dreams that could not prevent the truth from happening.

1 comment:

Space Bar said...

hooray for this! i'd rather see a tree outside my window than a rusty car settling into the dirt.