Tim Edensor - British Industrial Ruins

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order

Factories relied for their smooth running on the rigid ordering of space, materials and people. People and things were assigned specific places within which they ought to remain. With ruination, the order of the factory falls apart as the previously contained comes tumbling out of place to mingle in profusion. The banal traces of power can still be identified: the routines, the apparatus, the spatially organised hierarchies and systems of work, and the notices drawing attention to rules and practices. Now, the offices situated above the shop floor crumbles to join it. Things are now out of place. In the factory products were compiled, listed, enumerated, stocked in units ready for transfer, but now these stacks mingle amidst an array of material. The order of the factory and the discipline to which it subjected its workers was transitory and seems arbitrary, but new ways of regulating workers and creativity persist according to fashions in management.

The disordering of the factory which reveals it to be a part of history, contrasts with the heritage industry, which selects fragments of the past and places them into ordered displays and subjects them to narrative interpretations. Here, things are isolated, positioned against uncluttered backgrounds and do not co-mingle with other fragments. This presentation and codification of the past eclipses mystery and strangeness, replacing it with legitimate and authoritative ways of remembering, akin to the display of commodities, shiny, separate and alone. But the removal of clutter, disguises the profusion of matter and meaning.

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site designed by the Design & Print Unit at Staffordshire University, for Tim Edensor, hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University
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created 8/10/2002