American Ruins

Photographer Arthur Drooker’s haunting infrared images of the bygone U.S.


While photographer Arthur Drooker’s ruins aren’t the castles and shrines that usually come to mind, his infrared images of prisons, mansions and other sites of U.S. decay evoke all the moody history and past lives of their tourist site counterparts. The Mill Valley, CA-based artist’s “American Ruins” exhibit (opening at the Virgina Center for Architecture on 9 September 2010) culls these haunting photos from from his award-winning 2007 book of the same name, featuring luminescent images that with each crack and chip reveal just a bit of the America’s former splendor. To learn more—including how Drooker achieves his otherworldly effects, what to expect from the show and what’s next—read on for the interview, and see more images in the gallery below.


If you’re in Richmond, be sure to check out the opening of American Ruins at the Virgina Center for Architecture on 9 September 2010 from 5:30-7:30pm, or visit before it closes 28 November 2010. You can also get a glimpse of the work in his current show at Santa Fe’s William Siegal Gallery (through 3 September 2010), and look out for Lost Worlds, his large-format book collecting images from 33 sites in 15 countries that’s due out Fall 2011.

What was the selection process in choosing photos for the exhibit? Are all of the images from the book?

All the images are from the book. There are 50 prints, representing each of the 22 sites
I photographed for the project. The exhibition is organized geographically, the same as the book—the geographic regions are the South, the Southwest, the East, California and Hawaii.

what is it about ruins that inspires you and has kept you photographing them for years?

Photographing ruins merges my passions for history and photography. I’m drawn to these sites to make a spiritual connection with those who came before us, preserve the visual poetry of what they left behind, and restore what they’ve built to our collective memory. In making these images, I confront my own mortality and become most alive.


After the success of the American Ruins book, what led you to work on Lost Worlds?

I wanted to continue photographing ruins. Going beyond the U.S. borders seemed to make the most sense, but not so far away that it would take too a long time to complete the project. Hence, Lost Worlds: Ruins of the Americas. In every way it is a more ambitious project: The research, trip planning, and the photography. By the time I complete Lost Worlds at the end of this year, I will have been to about 30 sites in 15 countries. That’s a lot of miles in a little over two years.

How does your subject matter influence your technique or vice-versa?

I photograph ruins in infrared. Infrared light is invisible to the human eye, but I use a specially adapted 35mm digital camera to record it. The ethereal effect illuminates the otherworldly atmosphere that haunts ruins, allowing a photographer to transcend mere documentation and capture the mystery and elegiac beauty of crumbling walls, weathered facades and broken arches as no other format can.

UNstudio Loft

Une conception intéressante des architectes d’UNStudio pour cet appartement se trouvant dans Greenwich Village. Une interaction entre la galerie et l’espace de vie grâce à des murs courbés, offrant un espace pour la collection d’art privées du propriétaire. Le tout éclairé par 18.000 LED.







Previously on Fubiz

Space is Process: A Documentary about Olafur Eliasson

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pem”When I make something, which maybe is a work of art, I want this to be in the world. I want it to be sincerely and honestly and responsibly in the world. I want it to have an impact somehow.”/em/p

pWe just found a beautiful trailer for a new documentary about Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, responsible for a href=””The Weather Project/a at the Tate Modern and the New York City Waterfalls. The filmmakers, Henrik Lundoslash; and Jacob Joslash;rgensen followed the artist for 5 years to document his working process and artistic vision on film. /pa href=””(more…)/a
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Kindle Packaging, Meyerhoffer Surfboard Among I.D. Annual Design Review Winners

meyerhoffer.jpgDearly departed I.D. magazine lives on in the I.D. Annual Design Review, which since 1954 has recognized the best in product, furniture, graphic, and environment design. This year’s winners range from Thomas Meyerhoffer‘s performance-enhancing surfboard (pictured) and the “unmistakably Swiss” first-class seats designed by Priestmangoode for Swiss International Air Lines to Lab 126’s no-nonsense packaging for the Amazon Kindle DX and the color-based approach to nutritional information dreamed up by IDEO and Hakuhodo.

The winning entries in all ten categories are featured on the retooled I.D. Annual Design Review website and at the AIGA National Design Center in New York City, where they’re on exhibit through September 10. In addition to the all-designer jury‘s impressive selection of best of category, design distinction, and honorable mention recipients, this year’s Design Review introduces the Rado Young Talent Design Award, which grants a $10,000 prize to one student whose work was distinguished by the innovative use of technology and materials. The winner is a Zaha Hadid-flavored room divider called “Phenomena” designed by recent Cranbrook grad Sang Hoon Kim of KEAME Studio. Created (somehow) from 92 pieces of wood, the divider’s eye-boggling curves succeeded in inducing a double-take from Rado president and CEO Roland Streule, who was struck by its “creative, visionary shape which brings dynamism into a room.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

Make Custom Electronic Goods Online: Ponoko and Sparkfun Team Up!

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pWe’re excited to hear that a href=””Ponoko/a, the popular, laser-cutter based, online fabrication system, is teaming up with SparkFun to offer electronic hardware as part of its catalog of materials, allowing makers to create polished, custom electronic products. Touch-sensitive, gps-enabled, music-producing robots that feed your cat come to mind./pa href=””(more…)/a
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Chris Milk and Arcade Fire create a new music experience

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pWe’ve been hearing the moans and groans of the music industry for a while about its demise due to lack of interest in the physical music product. And some of us still love that physical experience of putting on a record–the scent of it, delicately placing the needle on the vinyl, and pushing play. Luckily designers and other creatives see these changes as opportunities, and interesting new ways of experiencing and connecting with music are finally picking up some steam. A recent example we a href=””wrote/a about is Boym Partners’ collaboration with a href=””Ghostly Records/a, involving a “totem” designed to bring tactile life to Matthew Dear’s Black City album. /p

pAnd a href=””Arcade Fire/a seem to be on a roll with their new album The Suburbs, first by accompanying the a href=””digital version/a of the album with virtual liner notes to browse while playing it on your smart phone. Now the Canadian band has unveiled their next tech-y endeavor for Suburbs, collaborating with Google and writer/director Chris Milk in the release of a pretty incredible and personalized experience for their song “We Used to Wait.” The a href=”””Wilderness Downtown”/a is Milk’s interpretation of the Arcade Fire song, and also a great experimentation with all the bells and whistles one gets to play with by working with /
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Dogs on Design: Surtees’ Oversized Lap Dog

pemIn this fifth post in our series, Dogs on Design, a href=””Raleigh Pop/a blogger Sarah F. Cox sat down with designer Michael Surtees, an interaction designer at a href=””Behavior/a. They talked about how humans behave on the web and how dogs behave in the park. /em/p

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pI’m trying to ask Michael Surtees serious questions about his design critique of the mobile application a href=””Foursquare/a, but I’m a bit distracted. His weimaraner, Madison, keeps trying to crawl into his lap. We are seated on a bench in Washington Square Park at 9 am on a hot August Saturday and the slanted sun is already starting to bake sunbathers while some sort of work-out club is lunging and lifting in the shade. The park is a mid-point in one of the shorter walking routes Surtees and Madison take down Fifth Avenue. For a longer walk, they’ll head north on Park Avenue to 42nd Street and loop back south to 23rd Street en route to the apartment. “What I like about that walk is that the sidewalks are wide, washed daily, and I get to observe Grand Central Station for several blocks.” As a Canadian import, Surtees is still struck by New York icons after four years here. “While I live pretty close to the Empire State Building I never take it for granted. It’s pretty rare for me not to stop at a light on Fifth Avenue, look up to that building and smile. That this is my normal view walking Madison.”/pa href=””(more…)/a
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Daily Sales Round-Up! – August 31

imageTravel & Style

Although schools are starting, classes are in full swing and the laid back days of summer are no longer present in the office, it’s still ok to daydream about a luxurious getaway … and all the beautiful things you’ll be wearing while there! Whether it’s the crazy nightlife of Las Vegas that you’re craving, or the peaceful waters of a tropical resort, Rue La La and others have got you covered. Plus, check out all the great vacation worthy pieces and accessories that will be guaranteed to turn heads while you’re vacationing. It doesn’t have to be next week so plan ahead and go on the trip of your dream!

Rue La La – Laguna Cliffs Marriot Resort & Spa, Mandarina Duck, French Connection, Diane von Furstenberg, Genetic Denim, Vince Camuto, Rebecca Taylor

Gilt Groupe – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, Antik Batik, Sergio Rossi, Demy Lee, Hanii Y

Ideeli – Banyan Tree Mayakoba, The Venetian Las Vegas, Cabo Azul Resort, Seven Stars Resort, Samsonite, People’s Liberation

HauteLook – Decadestwo, Juicy Couture, Juicy Couture Handbags, DermaNew

The Design Response to a Wash of Green: Whole Systems and Life Cycle Thinking, by Simon Lockrey

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pemThe Keep Cup, a reusable cup for the takeaway espresso market./em /p

pWhat a great idea: a ‘green’ product to make a difference, make one happy, and assist in performing the menial tasks that litter an otherwise hectic day. Or is it? Consumer decision-making is beginning to follow a distinctly ‘green’ trend, which is fantastic in principle but often contrived in reality. What does this mean for the designer who imagines, designs and creates these goods that cater for growing consumer demand in ‘sustainability?’ There lies the contradiction between designing for the consumption obsessed market and designing to the core principles of sustainability, where environmental, economic and social aspects are somewhat detached from a consumer driven market./p

div class=”article_quote”A designer in an appliance company designs a product for disassembly although there is no effective product stewardship scheme to collect the parts from reclaimed models./div

pAccording to Ezio Manzini, design theorist from the famed Politecnico di Milano, we have a crisis of the commons (common areas, goods, etc), a lack of contemplative time (a time poor existence, longer hours at work, etc), and most relevant to designers, a proliferation of remedial goods (a href=””Manzini 2003/a). The latter sees products solving every perceived problem imaginable. Whether it is a toothbrush that oscillates the plaque off in half the time, or a breakfast bar filling the five-minute bus ride, we have become increasingly, unconsciously used to products feeding our increasing wants, without a thought as to how that consumption impacts the environment. Last century, the raw materials consumed by one person in the US increased five fold (a href=””Matos and Wagner 1998/a). This looks more ominous when combined with the fact that only around 15-20 % of the world is highly developed to a US or western style of consumption (a href=””UN, 2009/a). One approach is for design to lower the user’s consumption, without degrading the consumer’s experience. The question is whether the new breed of ‘eco’ products adds to the crisis, or makes a real difference./pa href=””(more…)/a
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Damascus Steel: Accidental nanotechnology circa 1100 A.D.!

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pI was reading this article on A HREF=”” Top Ten Lost Technologies/A and came across an interesting tidbit about A HREF=”” Damascus Steel/A, one of only two materials to make the list (the other being Roman Cement). Damascus Steel was a super-strong Middle Eastern forged metal used from roughly 1100 A.D. to 1700 A.D. It was said to be able to cut through rocks and other people’s swords, making it the bad-ass material of its day./p

pSadly, the “recipe” for making Damascus Steel no longer exists, and they’ve not been able to reverse-engineer how to make it. In any case, below is the passage that struck me, boldface mine:/p

blockquoteThe particular process for forging Damascus steel appears to have disappeared sometime around 1750 AD. The exact cause for the loss of the technique is unknown, but there are several theories. The most popular is that the supply of ores needed for the special recipe for Damascus steel started running low, and sword makers were forced to develop other techniques. Another is that the whole recipe for Damascus steel–Bspecifically the presence of carbon nanotubes/B–was only discovered by accident, and that sword smiths didn’t actually know the technique by heart. Instead, they would simply forge the swords en masse, and test them to determine which met the standards of Damascus steel. Whatever the technique, Damascus steel is one technology that modern experimenters have been unable to fully reproduce./blockquote
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