abandoned abandoned building

There's Beauty in the Breakdown

Monday, July 01, 2013 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

As human beings we have a desire for adventure. We strive for the unknown, lust for the allure of the darkness, and drive to the mastery of mystery. Whether you are Indiana Jones exploring the Temple of Doom, a student starting at a new school, or watching a scary movie on the silver screen, we crave that adrenaline rush of the unfamiliar. The explorer, the building, the student, and, of course, the movie, they all have a tale to tell.  

 As we all know, each and every story must have a storyteller; they say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and that is where this saga begins…. with a photograph.

There is a discipline of photography known simply as “urbex.” To elaborate, urbex is an abbreviation for urban exploration, which can be defined as the investigation of urban environment that are oftentimes abandoned or unseen by the general population. These individuals, urbexers, expose the skeletons of an industrious past.


In many instances, your average urban explorer will be armed with a camera, flashlight, and a good pair of boots as these areas can be shrouded in complete darkness, and the ground may hide nails and glass. The goal of the urban explorer is to document the surrounding environment while simultaneously leaving it untouched for future visitors. It is often recommended going with a guide who knows the location before setting out on your own as there may be hidden dangers that linger within. For example, some buildings may contain holes in the floor, hanging rebar, squatters, hazardous materials, unstable staircases, walls, and/or floors and ceilings.

Despite the dangers, you might encounter something magnificent. Something new, exciting, or something you have never seen before.vWhile inside the structures one may stumble upon things such as stalactites, stalagmites, rusticles, left over tools, papers, machinery, and of course, plenty of graffiti. Each of the forgotten items leaving the explorer(s) pondering the stories of what has once been and what is to come. Some of these locations have been overcome by the elements of nature, reminding us that life often comes full circle, and nature always finds a way.

A collision between the Industry Revolution, Father Time, and Mother Nature that will get you thinking wisely about your past, present, and future.

Amidst the explore, one will often find infinite amounts of wisdom colorfully etched on walls, ironically placed paraphrases, and seemingly strategic placed props that have the ability to make you laugh, smile, or simply send a chill down your spine. These dead and decaying ruins of once prosperous projects of productivity shed an almost haunting light into a land no longer touched by the human hand. 

It was once said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Well, I assure you that there is certainly beauty in the breakdown.

Special thanks to Spencer Hughes of Spencer Hughes Photography for allowing me to use one of his photographs for this piece.

~Kenny Muzzey~

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