Sunday, October 18, 2015

Crimson Peak and Ruin Photography/Porn

At the heart of CRIMSON PEAK is a ghost story brought about by madness. The ghosts are comprised of people who are sacrificed for the sake of Allerdale Hall, a crumbling gothic structure sinking into the ground of liquid red clay of Cumberland, England. It's owners are destitute and desperate to hold onto the house and the land as it is the only thing left to them with their titles. [Spoilers here:]

The movie was beautifully shot. The story brilliantly told. But for me, the star of the scenes was Allerdale Hall. As they first enter it, it seems grand until you realize that there are leaves falling into the entryway due to the gaping hole in the roof.  Some rooms aren't safe to go into anymore.  The whole of the building is a long run of what people today call "Ruin Photography" or "Ruin Porn".

Wikipedia describes "Ruin Photography" as such:

"Ruins photography, sometimes called ruin porn,[1] is a recent movement in photography that takes the decline of the built-environment (cities, buildings, infrastructure) as its subject. While “ruins” may be broadly defined as the remnants, or residue of human achievement from the temples of ancient Sumeria to Machu Picchu, ruins photography refers specifically to the capture of urban decay and decline in the post-industrial zones of the world. Ruins photography aestheticizes the abandonment and decline of the city most of all, and has sparked conversations about the role of art in various revitalization and restoration projects from Detroit to Berlin."

There has also been countless articles about why we are so caught up in the images:

I know that for some people they see the beauty in the ruins. I can too. However, when I see these "ruins", I have an overwhelming longing to save them. Or save pieces of them. My heart mourns that once may have been loved is allowed to slowly and needlessly decay; to die such a lonely death.  I mourne that the ground beneath them is allowed to go fruitless.

I look at this old staircase and imagine that it could be salvaged and given a new life in another structure. There are people who rehab old houses and I applaude them using old fixtures and pieces where they can.  I just wish that more salvaging could be done.  Reuse, renew, recycle isn't just a mantra for Earth Day. It should be something that is put to use more often in our everyday world.  To let resources from old structures go to ruin seems nearly a crime to me.

Decorative pieces could be salvaged even in a house that looks like it could fall down any moment to be used for new projects. Wood floors can be dismantled to use for rehabbing old houses or even in new constructions.  Instead of the bricks and wood and windows going into landfills, we should try to find ways of making them useful again. If not in the actual building of houses, these elements can still be used as decorative items.  Old windows can be brought together to form an albet unusual greenhouse, but it can be done.  There is also an arts and crafts movement that use old building pieces to create furniture, wall art, and free-form pieces.

Couldn't the wood from old structures (that which is not rotted or insect riddled) be replaned and used again or turned into paper pulp instead of cutting down live trees?  Could not old bricks be used as pavers?  Metal from stairwells and decorations could be used in construction.  It could also be used as scrap metal and melted down for a new life.  It just seems such a shame to me that all these resources go to waste.

It's not just the building materials that are going to waste.  The land the the unused buildings are settling on is also misused.  The land could be used for a new structure or farming or new forests could be planted for native animal and plant habitation.  All I can see when I look that the ruin porn images is that we are wasting our resources.  We are wasting so much that could easily be reclaimed.  Instead, we are letting them decay like the souls of Crimson Peak.

I would dismantle the estate instead of letting it die so brutually. I would save would could be saved - pack it away to be reassembled or reused elsewhere. Then just build a proper mine, liquid clay storage, and brick-making site on the land where the snow turns crimson every winter. But I know that all this is easier said than done. That's why it's not done more often.  Without our insistence on renewing, reusing, and recycling of what resources are already out there, we are setting outselves up for eventual decline.