“Sitting in the evening,
Dreaming of the old times
When a job was there for the steady and strong”
Well it has been a hectic time for me the last 6 weeks or so. After 14 years of living in Manhattan my wife and I have moved to Queens now, and are finally settling down to the point where I can think about writing a new blog. After the autobiographical nature of the last four-part blog series, I thought a return to one single topic might be called for, so once again I returned to that notebook I carry with me now to help me remember fleeting thoughts in the hope that they may inspire me later on. The word I put in the notebook a few weeks ago, when I was slogging back and forth between the old and new apartments lugging boxes and bags and trying to summon up untapped reserves of energy to combat the exhaustion and stress of moving was certainly reflective of the overall look of my new neighborhood. Likewise, it is also a word that describes some of my favorite subject matters in my own photography, as well as by other photographers. Finally it is the title of an album by the artists that are providing the soundtrack portion of this blog. That word is very descriptive in it’s simplicity and yet has a universal connotation with both the good and bad aspects with with which it is associated. To avoid any further suspense, the word in question is ‘Industry.’
Though the word industry can now be used to describe any field under one particular banner (for example, the Entertainment, Aeronautics, or Hospitality Industry, to name just a few) for the purposes of this blog when I mention the word, I mean it to be about industry in the more historical and physical sense. Days driven by large noisy machinery in massive factories and human blood and sweat rather than by microprocessors in a sterile laboratory. Of towns that were built around one particular industry, which everyone had a connection to. Though manufacturing and industry are still very much around these days, it somehow feels different now. Gradually plants underwent a change from employing nearly everyone in a town, to operating with as few employees as necessary now. The jobs went from hard back breaking labor to being less physical, with machinery guided by computers and automation rather than by an actual person. Though the health and safety of those employees has greatly improved as a result compared to the old days, the loss of jobs and more modern equipment also meant the buildings and structures that were part of those plants were gradually boarded up and more often than not, fell by the wayside and went into disrepair. Without getting into the political side, the golden age of industry effectively disappeared as a result.
“Now gone is dirt and gone is strife, and gone is struggle, and gone is life”
In a way, the decline of those industries lent itself to a new form of photography that most people would refer to as industrial photography. Living in an urban environment, when I began getting serious about photography, I soon realized that this form appealed to me. Though the phrase industrial photography can mean photos of active factories, mines or power plants, in this blog I mean for it to be about industrial decline. Abandoned warehouses and factories, strewn with broken glass and litter. Crumbling smokestacks and loading dock doors that once brimmed with activity now shuttered and empty, metal doors clanging in the wind. Massive parking lots that now lie empty, except for the occasional windblown leaf or trash and “protected” by fences that barely stand amidst the overgrown weeds. Buildings constructed so solidly that they remain in some sort of stasis in the hopes that one day the workers will come back and the plants will open again. A reminder that it wasn’t just the workers that were strong and resilient. Those buildings were pretty solid as well.
Continue reading “Soundtrack Of A Photograph, Part 17”