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Ghost Cities

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Steetley Magnesite

Magnezium, photographs by Kuba Ryniewicz of Steetley Magnesite in Hartlepool. Described by the photographer as ‘the best post-human zone I visited so far in the UK,’ this well-recognised photographic location is also a favourite of urban explorers (in the top five, no less). Ruins are a recurring theme on this website, as you may have noticed (along with an increasingly mangled css template). The ruins that seem to have the most emotional pull are modern ruins, the perverse combination of optimism and tragedy that only crumbling concrete, abandoned weekend utopias, machine-age memories and rust and lichen in every colour of the spectrum.

Modern ruins speak of a desire to exist in a present that combines futurism and fatalism, a way of simultaneously experiencing the thrill of tomorrow and schadenfreude. When the utopias currently available have so much less to offer than the crumbling visions we can conjure up in our minds, or infiltrate with our SLRs, it’s no surprise that ruinous landscapes have taken such a hold; Weburbanist’s compendium of Abandoned Places now runs to a staggering 33 parts. Compare with this piece on brand-led communities, ‘This town has been sold to Tesco’, which asks, presumably rhetorically, ‘Are towns built by the UK’s leading supermarket the future of urban development?’. Inevitably, perhaps, the Tesco Towns will some day make future ruins for our online contemplation, just as surely as boom leads to bust: Irish Ghost Estates versus Japanese ghost streets (the latter page includes lots of anime characters in various states of undress, just so you’re warned).


Other things. Triangle Triangle, a photography site, with a new Journal subsite. Produced by Jake Dow-Smith and Sam Williams, all of whom seem to have many other things going on, such as the imagery-without-attribution pile-up, Herr Frau (like a curated version of the LiveJournal image generators that were popular a few years ago, and have now been largely usurped by ChatRoulette, which in turn has spawned sites like As with all these sites, a pretty healthy dose of caution is strongly advised) / also sort of related, Shortcut, a tumblr.


The Island (2008), by Stephen Walter, part of the British Library’s Magnificent Maps exhibition. Full of London ephemera (e.g., AC/DC’s Bon Scott died in East Dulwich) / pretending apps, or how it pays to ape the simplistic appeal of applications simulated for movies / This is not the article on the Milan Furniture Fair that you asked me for, more from Luca Diffuse. ‘In FPSs, this intense urban experience – along with the attention towards one’s own gestures and movements – evokes an environmental nostalgia to me that is different and more acute than the real one.’


‘Ferrari has reacted angrily to reports claiming its Formula One livery is a subliminal form of advertising for its title sponsor Marlboro / Tamir Sher’s photoblog / City of Sound on the new newspaper / On Top of The World – The Rise of The Obervation Deck / Reasons to be Cheerful, a tumblr / a drawing a day.


Supercuts, or obsessive fan montages. Some day all our collective cultural output will be automatically sliced into this format / Aux Pays des Merveilles, a weblog with an architectural slant / the MTV 120 minutes archive / Luxury Brands vs the iPad. This obviously isn’t going to be good for Adobe. Cleverly ushering in an era where image is everything and to be without technological prowess is to be in some way inhuman.


We’re tinkering with Typekit. As a result, this site now looks horrible on PCs but rather lovely on Macs. Ironic, since we use PCs. Speaking of inner workings: if anyone can decipher how and why the tag titles and link categories show up as bold text when there is neither hide nor hair of a ‘bold’ tag in our css, we’d love to know.

Written by things

May 5, 2010 at 23:39

Posted in architecture, ruins

5 Responses

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  1. Love this site. This is one of the best websites for artistic inspiration on the web. Thank you

    Frank M Hansen

    May 6, 2010 at 01:53

  2. That’s because they are H3 (header 3), which are bold by default. Set something like:
    #sidebar h3 {font-weight:normal}


    May 6, 2010 at 08:28

    • Thank you. Nearly there… the sidebar links have de-bolded, but the ones in the main text are still bold.


      May 6, 2010 at 16:50

  3. it is a little harder to read, i have to say. what is the font in the comments? it’s much easier to read!


    May 19, 2010 at 15:51

    • Yes, we’re not there yet clearly. Will keep experimenting. As we’ve previously noted, this looks OK on Macs but horrid on PCs…


      May 19, 2010 at 16:05

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