Once the biggest sugar refinery in the world, Domino shut down in 2004, after a long struggle. Most Brooklynites of my generation know it as an icon on the landscape, multiplied on t-shirts and skateboard graphics. Urban explorers sly enough to breach the gates have found a playground of sublime, post-industrial texture and nostalgia.
I’ve been attracted for a long time to the iconic and esthetic features of the place. I also realized that if I had the chance to photograph it, I’d want the work to explore something more.
In 2013, the owner of the site, Two Trees, generously agreed to let me in. I had proposed a project that would attempt to look beyond the popular surface of Detroit-style decay photography. My goal was an expansive, even messy, fusion of art, icon, and industrial history. I wanted to show the ruin as its majestic self, and also as a lens through which to explore the history of the place and its people.
In a sense, I found myself looking at a long-gone version of the country, through a recently-gone industry and community, through a soon-to-be gone abandoned factory.
I also found myself working in the abstract, seeing how much chaos could be allowed into the frame, while still making a coherent picture. The visual density and confusion of the place invited this kind formal experiment.
The project will ultimately be a book — I hope a big and beautiful one. I’ll be working with Matthew Postal, an architectural historian who can show the deep connections between Domino, the global sugar trade, and the history of Brooklyn. I’ll also be working with Stella Kramer, a world-class photo editor, and with a group of former refinery employees, who can tell Domino’s real stories.
– Paul Raphaelson, Brooklyn, New York, USA
I live in Greece where the natural scenery is pure, breathtaking and inspiring on a daily basis. Here there is also a lack of urban planning, proper disposal system, and general order which leads to a kind of chaos or imposition of random junk against the harmony and continuity in the landscape. A new landscape forms which endlessly appeals to me and my camera lens. The mingling of humans and their created environment, sidelined by nature, and the play between what’s man-made and what’s natural is a theme in my photography wherever I go. It’s almost quirky, seeing how nature takes on characteristics of the man-made and the man-made becomes an integral part of the landscape — eventually these two defined categories meld and create a new language I try to capture visually.
– Kassandra Mara Lefakinis, Athens, Greece
The bings are an enormous set of spoil-heaps comprised from the tailings of the once globally important shale-oil industry which was centred in West Lothian. Since workings ended in the early 1960’s, the bings have gradually been re-appropriated as an unlikely leisure ground, site of nationally significant biodiversity and a monumental symbol of West Lothian identity.
The unintentionally beautiful, sculpted slopes of the bings are slowly being reclaimed by birch woodland and grassy meadows; in places, almost completely obscuring the industrial origins of the land they lie upon.
The bings are also at the core of the vibrant, central-belt motocross scene. The faces of the tips are relentlessly altered by their tracks with each passing weekend.
The bings are not without their issues and they fall foul of the usual problems associated with derelict land, with fly tipping and anti-social behaviour being the key problems.
Although I describe my project as a study of the bings, it’s perhaps more appropriate to describe the photographs as a record of my experience of them. I eschew the absolute objectivity often associated with contemporary landscape photography in favour of making lyrical images and by doing so aim to challenge ideas about how we perceive use of post-industrial landscapes in Scotland.
– Jack Luke, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
These landscapes are made of polygons, rendered by 3-D artists employed by Blizzard Entertainment and presented to me as pixels on a screen in the online game World of Warcraft. These lands are no less traveled than the physical spaces around us. They hold real memories and evoke powerful emotions to those who have spent time in this digital world. I, like Muybridge and Watkins, am bringing back representations of landscapes most will not have the fortitude to travel in. Unlike the physical spaces around us these digital lands are continually growing, creating new continents to be explored and exploited.
– Aaron Brumbelow, Savannah, Georgia, USA
I photograph the landscape around me, the landscape I see in my day-to-day travels and activities. This includes the picturesque as well as the discarded. These images have been collected into a series of monthly or bi-monthly journals that I have self-published thru Blurb.
The images can be arranged in a few broad categories: memorials, commercial properties (closed and thriving), intersections (urban and rural), pastoral (urban and rural). When put together they build a portrait of my activity in my environment/community.
It was the closed commercial properties that I started with in 2010. I was driving about 200 miles a day for my job, taking the same route each day for about five months. One starts to see things after a while that one may not normally see. I would pass through many small towns between Naples and Rochester as well as parts of Rochester, urban and suburban that were vacant, for rent/sale/or lease — evidence of a shift in the economy.
I often use the panorama format because I am interested in the context of the thing/place I am photographing. I do not want to isolate. I want to show where it is and what is around it.
When my job changed, my route became more varied, almost random. Other elements/subjects start to appear. The memorials I am finding very interesting at this point. Some mourn, some celebrate. They are everyplace — sometimes conspicuous sometimes hidden.
In my journals you can see the annual cycle, winter, giving way to spring and summer. Then the very gradual coming of fall before the snows and the sky turns gray. You can also see signs of a multinational corporate presence in our rural areas, industrial farming, an economy that is in a tail-spin. You can see the evidence of national and global conflict and the players in that game as well as occasional signs of hope.
– Robert Doyle, Gainesville, New York, USA
This project shows space surrounding me as the post-apocalyptic world. It has no people or architecture, and only separate ruins which jut out of the ground to indicate the past developments.
I used pieces of plastic as the filter to hide part of the image and to allocate the details necessary to me in a landscape.
I look at the landscape as an astronaut who has visited the planet in years after he abandoned it. Therefore, these works have the personal experiences of the astronaut concerning the myth about the lost past and impossibility to begin new life mixed up with documentary details for his field notes.
The combination of commonness and mysticism creates an empty scene for the spectator’s imagination.
– Yanina Boldyreva, Novosibirsk, Russia
I’m fascinated by the relationship between nature and traffic, especially by tunnels, streets and rail lines leading through the mountains. Although the mountainous region is cold, hostile and sometimes scary, the people always strived to build traffic routes nonetheless.
I’m working and living in Innsbruck, which is located in the middle of the Alps. South of the city there is an important Alpine crossing, the Brenner Pass, the border to Italy.
In former days, the village of Brenner was a popular resting spot for tourists, merchants, and other people travelling to Italy and back. Nowadays, it’s a kind of “lost place,” although Brenner is one of the most important European transit routes. The village — squeezed in between high mountains, the highway and the rail line — is dying. As the border post was closed in 1998, all the customs officials and exchange offices disappeared as well as many hotels and shops.
Brenner is an Alpine bottleneck. It’s dominated by a much-used highway, noise, exhaust gases, and an oversized rail station, surrounded by sheer mountain slopes. It’s a place where irreversible human intrusion turned the Alpine landscape into an ugly spot.
– Doris Doppler, Innsbruck, Austria
Italy was for a long time a point of reference for the art and the beauty of the landscape.
Today this reality is heavily modified. The landscape is contaminated by an economy that knows no brakes. The contemporary era requires a reflection on our identity that is changing fast. I think that the problem is in the small changes every day because they are more difficult to understand. And this is the challenge that we have to win.
I took these photographs in different parts of Italy. They can show some little but important changes.
– Alessandro Cirillo, Bari, Italy
Spaces of urban, suburban, and industrial use have been crafted and designed with specific purpose in mind by their creators, i.e. us. They are planted into the natural landscape and allowed to rest there indefinitely. Eventually, they are no longer useful as the times, and the people, change. While in large cities real estate is constantly transforming, suburban and industrial space rarely moves in tandem with the people.
This relationship between places lost in malaise and communities unequipped to repurpose them is at the center of my photography. My aim is to document the nature of landscapes that are expired, misappropriated, and lost and to capture the transformative process as it takes place. In doing this I hope to show how this defines the communities that these places occupy.
– Alex Segal, New York City
The Consumption project looks at landscapes in the United Arab Emirates that have been impacted upon by modern consumption habits. This may variously include the extraction and production of resources, processing of the same, manufacturing and construction, housing and property development, logistics, retail and ultimately waste management, disposal and reuse. Sometimes the exact nature of the land-use photographed remains mysterious.
The project also considers the way the ancient landscape itself is being steadily consumed, just like any other commodity.
The land of the UAE was essentially wild and almost entirely natural until very recently. Previously, its appearance had only altered on a geological and climatic timescale. Prior to the oil era, the occupiers of this harsh landscape considered it with a mostly critical eye; this was an environment that human life, in many ways, did battle with in order to survive. They had made their small marks on only a handful of areas along the coast, and where fresh water was naturally occurring or close to the desert surface.
In the last 50 years, and most particularly in the last 15, rampant development and exponential population growth have left few areas untouched. Everywhere you look, the landscape is being fundamentally altered and repurposed.
– Richard Allenby-Pratt, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Beginning almost by chance in the summertime of 2012, Barn Elms observes a specific open space and recreational ground in South West London, which has been under continuous redevelopment by the local council there since early that year. In an attempt to document many of the features that were suddenly disappearing, as the landscape constantly changes, the series not only looks at the visual potential produced as a result of these human influences, but also those brought about by the natural elements and the changing seasons over the course of a year. On a basic level, Barn Elms is a portrait of a place, celebrating its details, textures and richness.
– Joshua Whitelaw, London
Still Places is an observation of human scale within nature, in stark contrast to the manicured vistas of city life.
This series represents my two-year journey into residential rural Victoria and explores a personal interplay with the landscape that surrounds the remote location of Moonee Creek Cooperative, Lima East. I take inspiration from communities that live harmoniously with nature and connected to the land – “off-the-grid” so to speak.
Creating this body of work has enabled me to undertake a journey into isolation, stillness and ultimately my rural utopian dreams.
– Daniel Bushaway, Melbourne, Australia
Genius Loci Vol.1 is an autobiographic statement. It is a daily journey that was born as much from the will of maturing as a photographer as from the necessity of facing a long convalescence. Each snapshot is the destination of a travel at your fingertips, a trip that was almost always an Italian one, in which, with selective and precise criteria, I was looking for the presence of color, composition and light. Realized between the summers of 2012 and 2013, Genius Loci Vol.1 walks the spectator through a few recurring paths: Milan, the water, the vegetation, the animals, the non-place, the Virgin Mary. They are all pacific environments, reassuring in a certain way, and in which I’ve always searched for order of things.
The location choice was rather accidental. Often I just happened to find a space that I liked and I waited and waited, until something, just about anything, would appear and complete it.
– Fabrizio Albertini, Lake Maggiore, Italy
Again and Again is a book project photographed from January to April of 2012 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The book takes viewers on a wandering path exploring the neighborhoods and encountering the people of Christchurch. At the time, the area is still encountering near-daily tremors a year after a significant earthquake and severe aftershocks destroyed much of the central city and numerous homes in the coastal suburbs.
I lived in Christchurch for about half of 2004, and my favorite spot to watch the sun rise, a cliff top spot in a suburb called Sumner, fell into the sea with the earthquakes. The beauty of the spot never left me and I had dreamed of one day going back with family and loved ones to show them the spot, but it’s not there anymore.
The resulting project is a study that was born out of a desire to explore the impermanence of place and how we cope with, or are affected by constant change and uncertainty. Christchurch is well known by its nickname “The Garden City,” and although there wasn’t much infrastructure being rebuilt yet when I was there, the land had already started to sprout anew in both new and expected places.
– Peter Hoffman, Chicago, Illinois, USA
In November and December of 2013, having just returned to the States from a year in Germany, with time on my hands and without a job or anywhere to call home, I walked 1,000 kilometers from my birthplace of Galveston Island to the West Texas town of Marfa, where my wife Lynn and I are building our own home and finally settling down after many years of moving around.
During the walk I took one photograph each hour. The first image is of the building that stands in the place of the hospital where I was born and the last, taken in the morning light the day after I reached town, is of the property on West Galveston Street in Marfa where Lynn and I will live. I’m primarily a poet, and usually, as with this project, I employ photography as a visual notebook.
– Joshua Edwards, Marfa, Texas, USA