Archive for the ‘Urban Exploration’ Category
Excellent article posted at Archaeology and Material Culture.
An astounding number of web pages document abandoned materiality, encompassing a broad range of architectural spaces including asylums, bowling alleys, industrial sites, Cold War sites, and roadside motels as well as smaller things like pianos and even scale models of abandonment. This ruination lust is not simply the province of a small handful of visual artists, hipsters colonizing Detroit, or recalcitrant trespassers; instead, it invokes something that reaches far deeper socially, has international dimensions, extends well into the past, and reflects a deep-seated fascination with—if not apprehension of—abandonment. The question is what explains our apparently sudden collective fascination with abandonment, ruination, and decay. The answers are exceptionally complex and highly individual, but there seem to be some recurrent metaphors in these discourses.
For “urban explorers” (a term that might loosely include artists, photographers, archaeologists, and curious folks alike), such journeys seek out “abandoned, unseen, and off-limits” spaces that imagine ruination in a wide range of artistic, emotional, scholarly, and political forms. Many of these urban explorers and artists see themselves as visual historians, documenting the architectural and community heritage reflected in abandoned spaces. For instance, Jonathan Haeber’s urban exploration blog Bearings explains that “I’m just an eye. I’m just a camera. … An urban explorer is just a documentarian. … We only appreciate the creations that are overlooked. … It is what remains that is the democratic equivalent of a revolution.”
Once upon a time, in almost every industrial city, countless rivers flowed. We built houses along their banks. Our roads hugged their curves. And their currents fed our mills and factories. But as cities grew, we polluted rivers so much that they became conduits for deadly waterborne diseases like cholera, which was 19th century’s version of the Black Plague. Our solution two centuries ago was to bury rivers underground and merge them with sewer networks. Today, under the city, they still flow, out of sight and out of mind… until now. That’s because urban dwellers are on a quest to reconnect with this denigrated natural world. Lost Rivers takes us on an adventure down below and across the globe, retracing the history of these lost urban rivers by plunging into archival maps and going underground with clandestine urban explorers. We search for the disappeared Petite rivière St-Pierre in Montreal, the Garrison Creek in Toronto, the River Tyburn in London, the Saw Mill River in New York, and the Bova-Celato River in Bresica, Italy. Could we see these rivers again? To find the answer, we meet visionary urban thinkers, activists and artists from around the world.
Il était une fois, des centaines de rivières sillonnaient nos villes. Pourquoi sont-elles disparues? Comment? Et pourrions-nous les revoir un jour? Ce documentaire tente de trouver des réponses en rencontrant des urbanistes, des militantes et des artistes visionnaires du monde entier.
Premiering in Toronto on October 10, 2012. Film features some of Montreal’s best known underground explorers.