March 21, 2008

Beauty Lurks

Lately I find myself seeking out photographs of industrial objects or objects deliberately taken out of context (See photos below). Some objects if framed/cropped correctly appear to not be what they are and conversely may appear to be what they are not. With the proper (improper?) perspective different shapes/forms/colors/textures/visions emerge. Many times the beauty, the separateness lurks in the everydayness. Sometimes it is simply that I/we see things that I/we have seen innumerable times before but never really acknowledged. It is that initial moment of confusion, that epiphany that I seek. Objects that are somewhat familiar to the eye and things that never get even a second glance get their moment of exposure. The beauty is there, I simply seek to bring it into sharper focus. This narrowing of my/our vision allows me/us to expand my/our horizons.

Railroads, rail cars and rail yards are rich with targets of opportunity for these out of context and industrial encounters. In the midst of a railroad yard, in this chaotic place full of rusting trains and rusting equipment there are patterns, repetition, beauty. Fortunately there is a short line railroad in our county that once served the local paper mill and still serves the submarine base. When the mill finally closed (that’s a whole different story) the railroad began its long slow slide toward oblivion/obsolescence. Much of the mill’s paper making equipment, infrastructure and much of the railroad’s rolling stock are being dismantled and sold as scrap. Ironically it is the railroad that carries out the bulk of the scrap iron.

At the railroad office was an old flatbed rail car laid over on its side with the wheels and undercarriage removed. The first photos I took were of the railcar when it was for the most part still intact. Lame and stranded but still intact. Like a pack animal it offered its underbelly, demonstrated its submissiveness, acknowledged its defeat. It has no place in the development to come.

The next photos were after about half of the ribs had been removed. At my last visit most of the car had been cut into pieces and carried away. The dismemberment was over. But the train will have the last laugh. Through the smelter it will go on to be resurrected and enjoy life after death, perhaps as another train, or its track, or an I-beam, or a set of pots and pans. The metal made anew will once again take on a beauty of its own.

Click on photos for additional detail.

1 comment:

Justin said...

beautiful photos. thanks for posting.