Thursday, November 08, 2007


At the admitted risk of over-romanticising a point I've touched on before, after extended sessions in abandoned architecture - any abandoned building locations (particularly interiors) - I get a twinge of deep melancholy. For instance, if you were to imagine your home lying empty with you no longer there, you may also feel this.

Where does this melancholy come from? There's an atavistic echo; a longing to be outdoors, to be 'free', to be up in the trees or in the mountains, by the sea, looking out onto open horizons or up to the sky. Impro contains a memorable and powerful chapter on this very notion.

Although we rely on buildings for so much of our protection from predators or the climate - note this nation's widespread property-owning neurosis - you know, to me, four walls are not entirely to be trusted. Nor are their cohorts the locks, bolts, fences, and alarms. They are our (barely) gilded prisons and self-inflicted shields from the beauty outside.


David Cotner said...

The melancholy comes as much from wanting to be indoors as it does from wanting to be outdoors. And when one has a home for a very long time - and all the insular sedentariansim that that implies - looking at and walking through abandoned buildings reminds one that there was a time when a home was a luxury, not a compulsory day-to-day.

flora_mundi said...

i can understand the sense of melancholy, but for me, i think it is somewhat different. given the purpose of buildings- homes, offices, hospitals... any building- it seems like an abandoned one is a failure. it cannot do what it was designed to do and, in a sense, reinforces the ultimate futility of notions of protection or insulation.

Sarah Trotsky said...

For the most part, I love being in abandoned buildings.

It feels like they're being liberated, returning to nature.

it's gutted buildings where humans still reside that really get to me.

funny thing, that.

Jack Sargeant said...

I often feel melancholy related to the temporal effects of a 'space' or an 'area', normally a sense of homesickness BUT (and this is crucial) I am not homesick for a physical location but for the possibilities suggested by a mood related to a geographical space.

A combination of scent, sound, and atmosphere can trigger off melancholy based on an idea of memory or even immanence related to a location. I used to get an incredible sense of sadness and non-belonging on Brighton Beach, but only in certain geographical areas and at certain times of year, for example dusk at Spring.

pelao said...

in or out, free! even melancholy