Who would have thought that decay would look so fascinating? I've now bought several books on contemporary ruins and O'Boyle's book is an excellent addition to my collection. The book is divided into two ruin formats: the institutional and industrial. I thought the former interesting (and the part with colour photos) with its long state hospital corridors, confined space prisons and everywhere peeling paint but it's in the industrial pages where I think O'Boyle's superb photos really come alive.
The chapter on steel has some quite stunning images of Bethlehem Steel Company blast furnaces inside and out. These structures must be a photographers paradise (even when brand new, too) with their irregular shapes, shadows and sheer size. The section on coal is perhaps more subdued, here the photos reflect the effects of coal on the community so there images of houses, a drive-in theatre as well as the inner workings of a defunct mine. The last section is a sort of hybrid of the institutional and the industrial: the Bannerman Island Arsenal on Pollepel Island near Cold Springs, New York. There are only seven photos of what could easily be mistaken for a ruined castle on the Hudson River (check out some colour photos of the place on Google Earth).
The landscape book is nicely designed and printed with a 200 screen on a matt art paper. The last four pages have a short interview with the photographer and his thoughts on the ruins, how he finds and explorers them.
>>>LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
on 19 January 2011
I have a thing for rustic windows, and things that somehow return to their organic, rustic origin. All the artificial colors and signage seems to disappear, and the primeval elements of metal and stone are revealed. This of course is especially subtle in black and white photos, that make these structures somehow elegant and lovely.
Sure, I'd hate to have miles of these abandoned structures out my window or on my commute. But in their photos, O'Boyle takes them out of the 'real world' and into a more unique frame of thought. It's like looking at old headstones and realizing two things: the representation of what once was alive, and the way the passage of time creates something new and yet still alive (rust, decay, encroaching plants).
The most impressive are the ones showing exterior windows, some clinging to just a few shards of glass. And interior photos from Bethlehem Steel, monsterous open spaces surrounded by stick trusses and steel posts look as ghostly and haunted as you'd imagine. In some photos, the small paned windows look more like the bars in jail cells...did the former workers symbolically escape when the factories closed? In fact, the Eastern State Penitentiary are especially poignant, with the frames of old metal cots under elegant barrel-rolled ceilings.
' Having spent years in architecture, I appreciate the unique style and efforts that went into the most mundane of buildings-moldings, pediments, trim...things that modern construction eliminates due to costs. The Northamptom State mental hospital is especially elegant, eyebrow arches, miles of deep crown molding and panel trim makes the abandoned interior look more elegant than many McMansions today.
Insightful essays are inserted that discuss what the decay symbolizes in view of modern times. Photography fans would love this coffee-table style book...