Decay has become performance. Dressed up to the digitally-manipulated nines, the too-bright remains of disintegration groan beneath the weight of expectation to entertain. We expect ruination to delight and, when cheated of illuminated whimsy, we sulk.
We insist dilapidation show us everything of what went before. What’s the point of abandoned asylums without scattered, yellowed patient records flapping as dead pigeons in the glowing half-light of haunted dusk or the de rigueur wheelchair ghosted in dust? Show me the bloodrust-stained marble of a Victorian autopsy table! We clamour for vaudevillian horror at the expense of quiet marvel.
If we cannot easily imagine the agonised screams of former inmates of the dripping penitentiary or the shattered children’s home, why bother recording them at all?
The subtlety of tiny moments shrink from our perception with every demand placed upon decay. In re-rendering the ability to discern the instant, we could once again feed the part of ourselves yearning for limbic satiety. Just as our earliest ancestors found thrill and terror in equal measure in a flash of lightning, the resultant ozonic tang in the air was the proof of the pudding, lest their eyes had deceived them.
Bear witness to the tapping of a vine upon a moss-streaked window, as it begins to tug gently at the frame, seeking a point of entry. In the spun out moment before an elder sapling breaks through rancid plaster, consider the implacability of such simple vegetation having first conquered the external red brick solidity.
High above, a fractionally slipped roof tile enables the cumulative power of a million raindrops to wreak the effect of a winter-force storm upon a ceiling, which surely creaked agreeably like the timbers of a salt-seasoned galleon the second before it fell.
Mini-dramas of perfect execution, lost to the glamour of the whole, yet each just as necessary to the final effect. Without one there can be none, for each is as crucial, as elementarily elemental, as any other.
In noticing the things that may otherwise escape notice, we return to the essence of ourselves: to the time when, as children, we had the ability to participate in nostalgia as it occurred – a curious sensation of folding back into the earliest possible state of experience.
The very moment in which decay is born unto itself. A great landside deposits an entire cliff face into the raging maw of a freezing sea; but the real prize would have been to witness the trickling fragments, seconds before tonnes of earth suddenly shift downward. As we experience the dramatic emulsification of terra firma, swirling back to mud, we’re already longing once again for the tickles of precursory intent as a lover’s whispered breath upon our consciousness.