In Category JOURNAL

Controlled Demolition

The motif of the collapsing tower is a residue from teenage years. An old school project focusing on a local landmark that was chosen to occupy a week when most of the school was off on expensive study trips. A photographic exploration of a derelict and decaying power station with accompanying text that situated its current state within a Marxist critique of late capitalism was enough to draw the attention of a headteacher. It was either the politics or the fact that this creatively inspired work had clearly taken only two out of the five days. Whichever way round it became a blueprint for future endeavours Рnot least when this industrial site was, years later, scheduled for demolition, the tricky eradication of two great chimney stacks that aesthetically competed with the iconic doppelgänger further downstream. There is an impressive method behind such work, carefully laid explosives that strategically remove structures such that they collapse into their footprint Рwhile a precautionary principle dictates that houses and homes are evacuated Рwhen all goes to plan the result is a pile of dust Рwith no collateral damage. This was a prime riverside location, useful as a means to bring in substantial quantities of coal Рthe rusty disused conveyor belts provided umpteen dramatic camera angles, and with the change of use and the increasing value of land, the inevitable destruction took place. This is nothing exceptional in the world of capitalist development, it is the engine of renewal, and for the most part, the bestial nature of growth economics demands it. While this is clear, visible, tangible, it is also the tip of a much larger iceberg, by the time the jobs are lost and deployed elsewhere, the shell has already followed its own entropy. For many, it comes as a relief to be unburdened by crumbling cement, perished rubber alongside the inevitable toxicity of asbestos and heavy metals. Other times demolishment comes as a shock, a building not quite ready to be relinquished, the loss is a tragedy and subsequent blame for destruction is carefully placed elsewhere. This common engine of destruction and renewal finds its expression in manifest forms, not all of them material Рsocieties and cultures, services and states can be subject to a similar destructive calculus. While not literal explosives attached to structural supports, it is a process of undermining each and every institution, political, scientific or religious by way of corrupted officials and misinformed experts. Then, at some designated moment, the entire society will disappear into its own foundations with individuals caught in the collapsing debris as they try to find balance on floors that are sloping into oblivion, else suicidally lurch out of reach of a cataclysmic blaze or simply accept that it is, for the most part, the end of all things.

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