The SVA Pictures Collection’s Ruins folder provides unique and abundant insight into the aesthetics of decay. Ruins have primarily archaeological associations -- they are often all that remains of ancient civilizations. In this sense, they offer a glimpse into an unknowable past, a palpable sense of time having passed and thus of something big having preceded us. Thus ruins work uncannily to infiltrate -- or even contaminate -- the present with history. But the recent past has ruins too, and they evoke something different than their ancient counterparts. An industrial space like a factory or even a modern apartment building in a state of decay arouses a sense of the finitude of the present. There is something apocalyptic about how swiftly nature engulfs and erodes a recently occupied structure, a sense that is not so vividly evoked when one is walking among ancient ruins. Where in ancient ruins there is a sense of historicity, in recent ruins there is rather a sense of the future -- even some utopic return to the natural world, an erosure or erasure (a divine forgiveness?) of human decadence and destruction.
Mar 20 2018