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Forgotten Side Of Society To Be Examined In New Book

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Artists Daniel Barter and Daniel Marbaix have collaborated to produce a photo-essay that has urban exploration – or Urbex – at its heart. Urbex is an artistic concept that focuses on the exploration of architectural structures – sometimes derelict buildings, sometimes unfamiliar aspects of other man-made buildings. Their book, “States of Decay”, journeys through forgotten hotels, desolate transport hubs, abandoned asylums, derelict houses of worship and industrial monoliths to tell a fascinatingly atmospheric story.

“Urban exploration is the entering and exploring of abandoned buildings – and sometimes live ones,” explains Daniel Marbaix. There are compelling reasons for people to explore the hidden corners and shadowed fringes of our urban environments. “Urbex has grown massively in popularity,” says Marbaix, “partly due to the Internet, partly due to what is inherent in human nature – curiosity about our environment.”

The ideals of Urbex run deep and share the same philosophical concerns as mainstream photo-journalism. Urban explorers find an aesthetic appeal in the decay but also acknowledge their role in documenting sites that are otherwise ignored to build an unofficial but vital archival record.

“I endeavour to reveal the nature of society through the artifices they build, the relics they leave behind, and the small stories contained within”, says Daniel Barter, “This quest has taken me as far as the desolate exclusion zone around Chernobyl, as deep as the secret vaults of London, on top of towering steel monoliths, and into the vast industrial wastelands that have found themselves surplus to requirements in the 21st century. These almost invisible frontiers surround us but relatively few seek to engage with their hidden depths.”

“States of Decay” journeys from Philadelphia to Buffalo via Pittsburgh and New York and invites the reader to peer into the recent past as dark histories unfold. It offers an intriguing insight into the decay that lies – just hidden – beneath America’s glossy surfaces. Its authors promise a roller-coaster ride – albeit a rickety one – around “the Bad Apple”!

States of Decay will be launched, in Ireland, on the 1st July 2013.

The book’s RRP is €23.50.

Ahead of the release we sat down with the duo to ask them a few questions

Your book – States of Decay – has Urban Exploration, or Urbex, at its heart. Could you explain the concept, please, to our readers?

(DB) Urban exploration is the discovery and exploration of the built environment, and is primarily concerned with abandoned, neglected and off-limits buildings and structures.

What brought you both to Urbex? Can you describe the journey that delivered you to this art form?

(DB) My interest in abandonments started at a young age. When I was 5 my junior school had a derelict aeroplane in an adjoining field. Two of my friends and I climbed over the 10 foot green wire mesh fence and entered the plane. The combination of leather and shiny metal switches was a formative experience for me. Even now if I close my eyes I can almost smell it.

It was not until my degree in restoration, that I started to explore in a fashion that could be considered Urban Exploration. My course seem to just spill over into exploring the urban environment and photography – I have not looked back since.

(DM) I started in 2007 after going in a large abandoned air raid shelter that led me to West Park Asylum and from there on I was hooked.

How do you source the locations for your photography – are they carefully researched, stumbled upon, or a combination of both?

(DB) It usually involves a fair amount of online research and information from other friends and explorers.

Is there a particular statement that you are making with States of Decay – political, social, environmental or otherwise?

(DB) There is a definite socio-political motivation behind the book. I think the intentions and motivations are fairly transparent. Instead of explaining them here I would prefer for the readers to draw their own conclusion.

In places, some of the book’s images have an almost theatrical quality. Do you ever feel the temptation – or the need – to stage any of your shots?

(DB) Sometimes objects have to be moved into the light or removed from the debris of life that surrounds them.

(DM) Not staging in the typical staged photography sense.

We’d love to know what you’re working on, now. Will you continue with your journey of Urban Exploration? If so, where – geographically – will that journey take you? What are your plans for the future?

(DM) We are continuing to urbex but we are also working on something dynamic.

(DB) Our current project is both massive in size and scale. It will blow people away…

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