Monday, May 28, 2012

The Life and Death of Buildings

A few insights from an interesting book/exhibit:

“A building concentrates history in one spot; a photograph carries history around the world."
"Buildings embody durational time. Time in a photograph is punctual."

The image is above is by Danny Lyons. It is called Dropping a Wall from 1967. Joel Smith quotes Lyons' text: "a description of workers 'risking their lives fro $5.50 an hour, pulling apart brick by brick and beam by beam the work of other American workers who once stood on the same walls and held the same bricks, then new, so long ago.'" (p38)

I've had the experience of tearing down structures I have built over my 30 year career in the industry. Money, taste, a shift in ownership but no structural necessity were the reasons for the demolition project. Then I built new on the same spot. This is a concentrated experience of the 'nothing lasts forever' variety.

The UPI image shown below certainly demonstrates the 'point in time' nature of photography.

I have written elsewhere in this blog about photography and urban ruins (often called 'ruin porn') and so much depends on the context and reasons for documenting the building(s).