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all part of a plotted progression

all part of a plotted progression - Conquistador China*
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Collapses, while inherently frightening because of the threat they pose, are endlessly fascinating to me. There is something surreal and dreamlike about seeing the familiar shape of a wall and window twisted inwards, seeing a chair or desk seemingly midway in the process of melting through the floor, or being able to look into a floor above you or below you through a curtain of wreckage.

Conquistador China was full of such odd events. Constructed mostly of wood (which is probably why it fared so terribly in the fires that destroyed it), it had not held up well over time and certain areas had the feeling of wandering around in a shipwreck. Areas like this have the immediate appearance of chaos and madness: boards jut every which way, propping up walls that are sagging inward as the floor drags them further downward. Despite this initial response, which I imagine is due to the jumble of familiar forms in unfamiliar poses, every piece of this puzzle is behaving in a rational way. If you understood physics, architecture, and engineering well enough, maybe you'd be able to trace the chain of events back to when and why one certain section of the ceiling gave way, causing the boards around that section to fan out. Maybe you could predict what might occur next, like the buckling and splitting of the ceiling boards in the upper left. At the risk of sounding insensitive to the building's plight, this sort of decay is like a slow motion action movie sequence.I enjoy the challenge of looking at it and trying to figure out the chain of events and where I am at in them, and I am reassured that scenes like this, which appear so catastrophic are in fact all part of a plotted progression, just at a more spectacular point than most.


Text and photograph by Matthew Christopher, taken at Conquistador China.

Also in: Conquistador China*

so it is within
if only
ars moriendi