Tim Edensor - British Industrial Ruins

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Ruins are haunted places, part of an uncanny urban geography. The ghosts which flit through derelict buildings are present in the traces of manufactured things, the techniques that required skilled eyes and hands, and in the vernacular descriptions and technical terms present in the inscriptions and instructions. The people who worked are ghostly presences signified by overalls, hob-nail boots, gloves, hardhats and the vestiges of the things that passed between them, the material exchanges of their relationships. These shreds and silent things that remain can only be half known and recognised, subject to the conjectures of our imaginations. They signal the absent presence of the unheralded people who make the manufactures and the wealth for industry.

Ghosts are also present in the remnants of the ways in which workers domesticated their workplaces through the use of graffiti, nicknames, the working out of sums on walls, slogans vilifying bosses, and the stickers, footballers, cigarette cards, pop stars and nudes which personalise industrial space.

Ruins are places in which the visible and the invisible intersect, full of signs that they are haunted. Following the ghosts enables us to identify the traces of the forgotten people and places, and in so doing we are able to form alternative stories and memories about neglected areas of history. We can construct different accounts to the official and academic descriptions of Historians and the Heritage industry, accounts that are far from seamless but connect the sensuous, evocative traces that we stumble across.

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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