Tag Archive - Disasters

Then and now…the CCTV Building in Beijing

CCTV Building Fire
“…the headquarters of CCTV, the Chinese television network, by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture—a building which I had thought was going to be a pretentious piece of structural exhibitionism—turned out to be a compelling and exciting piece of structural exhibitionism.”

–Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker

CCTV Building Fire
“Word has it that the building is close to explosion. Whole thing pretty much toast, all in all.”


The end of the world as we know it

It is snowing again here in Vancouver. Giant flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the streetlight. We are now into our sixth consecutive week of uncharacteristic and rather unsettling weather patterns. Last week we experienced something called a temperature inversion where it was 27 degrees Celsius on the ski hills and minus eight in the city creating a fog that made skyscrapers disappear into thin air.

Strange times indeed. My thoughts tonight are further derailed by an advertisement, on the back cover of a magazine that splays itself across our couch. It is peddling a new car from one of Detroit’s Big Three who, less than two months ago, had been forced to send their top executives down to Washington in order to sheepishly sit in front of US Congress and shamelessly beg for their lives. In the time since, GM and Chrysler have already seen 17 billion come to them in government assistance to which they have responded with the promise of a “greener future”. All of which brings me back to that ad and one line in particular: “Smaller than your average SUV.” Continue Reading…

An Intolerable Beauty

Chris Jordan
Chris Jordan’s photographic essays seem to always be preoccupied with uncovering beauty in the spoils of our society. Discarded circuit boards take on a patchwork air, while a rack of waterlogged dresses hints at a rainbow in the otherwise twisted wake of a post-Katrina New Orleans. In his series Running the Numbers, he uses statistics as his subject, producing compelling large scale photographic collages that serve as visual representations of societal numbers that are often too collosally abstract to even try to comprehend.

As Jordan states: “I am appalled by these scenes, and yet also drawn into them with awe and fascination. The immense scale of our consumption can appear desolate, macabre, oddly comical and ironic, and even darkly beautiful; for me its consistent feature is a staggering complexity.”

No Ritual Can Heal

Robert Polidori's After the Flood
Currently showing at the Met and corresponding with a book of the same name, Robert Polidori’s New Orleans After the Flood: Photographs hauntingly documents the post-Katrina devastation of the once Big Easy. With the same passion that affected his photographic essay on Chernobyl in 2001, Polidori once again succeeds in capturing the magnitude of loss and human folly in each frame.

For more info check out John Updike’s review of After the Flood in the New York Times Review of Books.

Left Behind

abandoned japan
There is something eerily resounding in the utter silence of abandoned buildings. No longer with purpose, emptied of their human charge, they stand as physical prophecies to the conquest of time and the inevitable reinstatement of nature.

Check out these spectacular images of Abandoned Japan (via the Skinny). And if you are left wanting more there is a very comprehensive listing of similar urban skeletons at Ruins and Urban Exploration.