"Kostis, hard to put into words the emotions this evoked for me, especially since I spent my teenage years running around with a bunch of kids who (thought they were) punk and hanging out in ruins too. Since I grew up in Salt Lake, they were not these nineteenth-century East Coast Gothic-tinged ruins, but, still. I often wonder if the same deep melancholy I got in those spaces, the heavy and intoxicating sense of past lives, ordinary and mundane, their loves, deaths, celebrations and Thursday night dinners, was somehow related to my interest in archaeology. Ruins have the ability to conjure a certain type of melancholy that is like nothing else in human experience, I think. Did you know mourning over ruins is a major theme in Arabic poetry? One of my favorites:
At the way stations
stay. Grieve over the ruins.
Ask the meadow grounds,
now desolate, this question.
Where are those we loved,
where have their dark-white camels gone?
Thanks for this, and I spent a long time looking at the photographs you linked to, as well."
Stephennie is a friend from UPenn Art History. She is professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the University of Texas, Austin and specializes in Syria. We've recently reconnected thanks to the power of Facebook.
Pogue Harrison on the sight of ruins:
"One could say that, in its world-forming capacity, architecture transforms geological time into human time, which is another way of saying it turns matter into meaning. That is why the sight of ruins is such a reflexive and in some cases an unsettling experience. Ruins in an advanced state of ruination represent, or better they literally embody, the dissolution of meaning into matter. By revealing what human building ultimately is up against -natural or geological time- ruins have a way of recalling us to the very ground of our human worlds, namely the earth, whose foundations are so solid and so reliable that they presumably will outlast any edifices that we build on them." Robert Pogue Harrison, The dominion of the dead 2003: p. 3.
Omur is an old friend from UPenn. He is a specialist in the architecture of the ancient Near East and professor of archaeology at Brown University. Among his many specializations, Omur is especially active in archaeological theory. See, his Theoretical Archaeology Group here.
"Hey Kostis. Are you familiar with Jeff Brouws work? As a photographer he follows the in the New Topographic lineage looking toward the landscape as cultural product/artifact. http://www.jeffbrouws.com/
Ryan is an MFA student in photography at the University of North Dakota. His work explore the nature of place/space through artistic and liturgical lenses. Ryan discusses his work and process on a great blog, Axis of Access. Last summer, Ryan was the artist-in-residence at the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project in Cyprus. His work in Cyprus is currently exhibited in Topos/Chora: Photographs of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project at the Empire Arts Center, Grand Forks. It was an honor to be invited to write an interpretive essay for Ryan's exhibition. I've never met Ryan in person, but the blogosphere has brought us together.