I just ran across these gorgeous, tragic photographs by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre Photography of Detroit, crumbling:
(via Erie Basin)
When did I begin to love this stuff? I don’t know if I can pin it down. I didn’t grow up in one of those collectors’ homes filled with relics of my ancestors. And even that isn’t exactly what I like — I like messy, falling apart, old. Paint peeling off of walls, grand, acclaimed, used, used, used, and then forgotten. I feel like nothing made today will ever look so grand in its demise. Our chipboard, drywall, and siding will fall off in panels, cotton-candy insulation will fluff out in clumps. Maybe not, but it’s hard to imagine our ruins being pretty.
I think it was in Europe. I don’t feel like the western U.S. has much remotely like this. I think it was the streets of York, moss growing on a ruined abbey in Chester, posters peeling off the walls in Berlin, stumbling upon the Roman forum. The ruins of my childhood were in Walnut Canyon — notable to everyone else, but dime-a-dozen to Flagstaff schoolchildren (as was the Grand Canyon — spoiled? Yes, we were). For some reason this was way more moving. Probably my age more than anything.
Anyway, here’s a photo I took at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia last summer:
It’s a haunting place, but gorgeous in its own way, well-designed with light in mind. Well, and isolation of prisoners). But compare this to the Supermax facility in Florence, CO:
Much nicer, no? Perhaps not as secure. But sunlight beats fluorescent bulbs any day, whether you’re in prison or academia.