We know not what it did, save that it seemed to have its own room on the top floor of the building we were in a week ago. Dials labeled “upper radiation” and “gallons per minute” as well as myriad switches and knobs covered nearly its entirety. Whatever it did may be moot, but what it does still is make a hell of an impression.
Stepping in closer to take in the details.
I smile fondly at the name Frick, remembering a dear friend who has passed on too soon. This is the only place I’ve seen this name out of the context of her name.
Valves where everywhere, early automation wasn’t very automated and required many people to keep it running smoothly.
I’ve never seen one of these outside of an old cartoon, I was a little surprised that they actually existed as part of real machinery,
A steampunk garden of brick, brass and steel
Industry, the likes of which licked those Commies but good!
Sundial terrarium at noon.
I have an easier time ascribing mental states to machines than to some people, so this little guy struck me as a perfectly sad castaway: clearly obsolete (what did he even do?) and left behind to rot. If you want a brilliant summation of what I felt when I came upon this scene, read this xkcd strip; it made my wife cry the first time I showed it to her.
It’s apparent that our particular interest lies in urban decay. This is a short apologia for what is perhaps merely a trend in aesthetics, photography in particular.
Our lives are easy. And safe. One can get in a car and drive two whole days in any direction (from Chicago, anyway) and count on the same network of stores, restaurants, and cell coverage everywhere. This is nice, but boring. People seek out the little diners, the mom n’ pop stores, to get away from McDonald’s and WalMarts. To get to what they think is authentic.
The photography analogue is urban exploration. Chicago’s skyline is beautiful, and rightly famous. It’s also there for the taking, photographically speaking. But finding the sights few see is a thrill in itself. If I’m to cultivate an art, shouldn’t there be some toil to it? Some exploration, some dirt, some pain and some risk? In our case, some chance of arrest?
I’m not fetishizing rust or industry, I’m not goth. I know beauty exists and can be sought anywhere and everywhere one cares to look. So it’s in the pursuit of a more elusive quarry that my passions lie.