In the course of investigating these empty houses and their surroundings, I have found that occasionally I feel an aversion to what I find. That despite my interest I am repulsed by what I encounter.
This may be a kind of Topophobia, as Yi Fu Tuan would term it. A sense of revulsion of, for instance, the burnt down barn initially made me simply glance at it and then avert my gaze, rather than study it intently. I felt a deep sadness that compelled me to look away and turn my interest elsewhere. My reaction was an attempt to blank it out of my experience as something I would have preferred not to encounter. Of course, despite this, I did investigate further and made images on that first visit. Without the incentive of this project, I would probably have left the site without examining it.
This aversion to elements in the landscape is fascinating, particularly in terms of our everyday lives. It may well be a coping mechanism for living in degraded environments. We seek to disconnect ourselves from painful landscapes by ignoring them. This is problematic, in terms of care of duty toward the places we live in. Even if there is, seemingly, nothing that can be done, acknowledging and investigating the landscape and its averse elements form the basis for local geopolitical awareness. From this, actions may be devised and undertaken to mitigate the degradation that caused the aversion in the first place.
In the case of the barn, the building had gone, only traces remained. Scattered burnt timber, foundations, corrugated iron roofing and burnt artefacts (mostly metal) were all that survived what was probably an intense heat. The life of the building had recently ended, as the fire burnt last April, according to local knowledge. A form of landscape death. Aversion is often associated with the signs of death and decay, the corpse of an animal by the side of the road, or a field of dead vegetation “treated” with herbicide. We dislike being reminded of our own mortality.
Having focused my attention on the remains of this building, I am treating it rather like an excavation, recording it by drawing a plan view, what would be a pre-ex plan, if I was to excavate the site.
2 metres by 1 metre, this makes the largest plan I have made and it is taking hours to complete much intensive detailed work.