Ghost Trains

Mexico railway artists

Here’s a picture of a wonderful machine. It’s a converted pick-up truck that can be driven along the thousands of miles of abandoned railway track in Mexico. It is a kind of spaceship that explores distant, now lost (disconnected), worlds plunged into isolation and ruin by market forces.

A similar kind of project has been exploring the derelict shopping malls of the mid-western US. The project is by Seph Lawless, from Detroit.

There are quite a few posts, on my other blog, the new pampleteer, about the degradations of modernity and of Detroit in particular.

Owen Hatherley, architectural critic and historian, describes modern architecture in terms of ruins. It’s about the spirit of Ozymandias – a sense of awe, understood as fear and contempt.

It’s easy to imagine all this in the context of really big countries, like the US or Mexico, but the same thing is happening in the UK. The dereliction is smaller in scale, but it is just as profound. Even in London, the veneer of shiny modernity is not especially deep.

Look behind the front-facing Georgian facades of old Soho, and there remains a Dickensian warren of shanty structures…the view from the railway track, towards the backs of houses confirms this.

When you start to look, the ruins are all around.

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