Wind rattles the deteriorating sheet metal siding as water loudly drips into rusty, orange colored pools. Loud clanging of pipes ring out as a “scrapper” beats on the bones of this building with a 40lb sledge. These are the sounds of urban exploration, or urbex. Some folks take this exploration to the extremes, going to crazy areas most others would not venture. My goal is simple: to find those glorious, rust belt machines from our machine age of which I have become obsessed. I was recently honored to be given a tour of some of the more photogenic spots in Detroit by a couple of local photographers.
I tend to work on projects of similar subject matter, and once I get images in my mind I absolutely cannot stop until I find a way to transform those ideas onto film. My first round of photographs in this vein can be found in my Industria portfolio. These were primarily made in California where most signs of early 20th century industry have long since been erased. I found that in the midwest while industry moves on, many of the older factories are still accessible, abandoned in place and ready to be explored!
But nothing lasts forever. While on a recent trip the word came out that the owner of the Packard Plant, which has been abandoned for over 40 years, may finally be coming down. Other buildings have been mostly gutted by various enterprising locals for scrap metal as the recycle prices skyrocket. I can only imagine what amazing machines have been carted off to the local scrapyard! So I figured I better act now and gather those photographic raw materials that are essential to my craft. I think of machines and factories in the same way a sculptor might think about a piece of marble. I hope to use those materials to make an artistic expression in the form of a fine art photograph.
Balancing at the top of a ladder with a 40lb pack full of large format, film photography equipment is how I practice my art!