Double Tap That – The Beauty Of Decay

Have you ever looked up at the places around you? The physical places, we mean. The stuff we’ve built over the millennia we figured out apposable thumbs.

From the Liverbirds perched proudly overlooking the Mersey in Liverpool, to the vast and most ancient of ruins in Rome. The soaring giants of New York that literally seem to scrape the sky or the towers and castles of Prague.

Do you ever look up and wonder … if the world were to wipe the slate clean now, somehow, if we had to start from scratch. Would we know how to build it all again? Would we strive to create what has come before? Or would we assume we could create something better?

Quite simply, would we fuck it all up?

The human mind has built advanced civilisations with its bare hands. Pyramids out of sand. Temples out of rock. But the question is, as we push towards ‘better’ … bigger, slicker, glass-ier … what are we leaving behind?

German photographer and urban explorer Michael Schwan dedicates his work to that very question. Through his photography, he invites us to join him on a journey into the past, a rediscovery of lost places.

Once homes – full of pride and love and life – the castles, villas, theatres and hotels featured in Schwan’s series ‘The Beauty Of Decay’ show the slow creep but total devastation of human neglect. Though these photographs feature no people in them, the ghosts of past inhabitants are everywhere. Tangible and poignant. Layers of memories, of stories, of possessions both litter and illuminate the empty spaces.

Time strips away the finery, the paint, the carefully pointed detail layer by layer, reverting it closer and closer to its original state. In some captures, the place has been sacrificed to time to completely that nature has begun to reclaim what was once its own.

And time acts indiscriminately. Whether a beaten down villa in Spain or the finest of banquet halls in Germany, the effect is the same. The photographs are a chasm of wonderings … where did they go? Why did they go? Who would leave this behind?

A pretty deep one for a mid-week flick-through, sure, but we do love the melancholic sense of romance to this series. It’s like the places are grateful to be seen once more and it makes us itch to explore them.

– See more of the series here

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