Fascination of ‘Lost Places’


Natural catastrophes or the total collapse of the infrastructure, a booming city can be a ruin by tomorrow. But the decline has its fascination for us humans. Ghost towns are horrifying but thrilling at the same time. Ruins hold this kind of tingling sensation to many one of us because of the paradox they embody. 


Brian Dillion writes about this paradox and claims two main elements firstly the ruins function as a reminder of the past “[a] portal into, the past” but at the same time it shows a possible future of what is now new will on day become a ruin”it predicts a future in which our present will […] disrepair”. The second paradox is that even if the ruin decals “its state of decay, somehow outlives us”. This can happen to every place, every time and within every duration.

They were ordinary cities until the catastrophe reached them. May it be a Nuclear catastrophe a mine fire, an earthquake or slumping many cities where left behind among the writing of history. However, others were abandoned after the resources where depleted.

Many are interested in these “lost places”, the fascination of what was, what is and what might be one day inspired the people. The ruins are never the same they are in a certain way alive, turn organic and find their way back to their roots – nature. Everything returns back to nature and humans are desperately interested in this ongoing change in compleat isolation. Some travel to far places to take pictures some paint them, film them and shape in that way the term “ruin porn”. Which describes nothing else than the pleasure and fascination of photographing Ruins.

Resources and readings

Ruin Lust, Tate Britain (2012) – video: Voiceover is an extract from Rose Macaulay (1953) Pleasure of Ruins. London: Thames&Hudson. pp.435-5: https://vimeo.com/90263485

Dillon, B. (2014) RUINS. London: Whitechapel Gallery, MIT Press. p.11

Huyssen, A. (2006) Nostalgia for Ruins. Grey Room, No. 23 (Spring, 2006), pp. 6-21, The MIT Press URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20442718 .
Zucker, P. (1961) Ruins. An Aesthetic Hybrid. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Winter, 1961), pp. 119-130. URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/427461
(1) The ruin as a vehicle to create a romanticising mood with all its associations;
(2) the ruin as a document of the past from its architecturally interesting details to the overall architectural form of a specific building;
(3) the ruin as means of reviving the original concept of space and proportion of periods past. Actually, these three basic aesthetic attitudes are seldom pure and consistent; transitions from one to the other are frequent.
Harbison R (1993) The Built, the Unbuilt and the Unbuildable Ruins. MIT Press

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