Log Line: Our Living Ghost Town is a virtual city assembled from addresses of abandoned houses in the real world, telling their stories. It’s a place to explore and share these places, while travelling the underworld of the urban global city which is fertile with architecture and street art of many forms.
Our Ghost Town – Project Synopsis
When we leave our house, even for one week, we seem to believe it stands frozen in time, waiting. When we return, eventually, it takes us some time to get used to it again. Some houses stands abandoned for many years, nobody lives inside of them anymore. They are situated on the streets, just like any other structures – a gate, a front door, a number on the wall. Inside the house the empty walls echoes and the floors collect dust upon furniture and other objects people doesn’t use anymore. The Windows are closed, some of the shutters are broken and the curtains are torn. But life still goes on, and time leaks through the cracks and the crumbling plaster. The house used to be dependent on people to attain for its demands, but now, abandoned, it submit to the strong power of nature. The people who used to live in it are now a faint memory, their remains are little and scattered all around.
These days real-estate is very expansive, and each and every person seek to own a few meters. There is no such thing as “Abandoned House”. When you do some research on the property you discover that the house stands empty only because it is haunted. Not by ghosts… But by living people that prevents the continuation of habitation in the property for some reason. It could be a court order in a very long and ugly struggle; it could be heavy depts., a conservation structure that is waiting for further funding, and even poisonous materials that are still buried in the ground below it.
“Our Living Ghost Town” is a web project aim to tell the stories of these so called “Haunted Houses”, and bring them forward in three different perspectives:
- The artistic nature of decay & Graffiti art.
- History and stories of the place. An update on what is going to happen to it in the future.
The web platform will be design as a map of a town, and people will be able to visit the properties and enter the buildings and houses. There are some factories in town, a school and even two cinemas. Each address would be portrayed by a video, photo gallery and collected information. Visitors will be invited to contribute their own knowledge, videos or photos on each of the properties. These places, long forgotten, will be visited and admired once again. They could be used again, as platforms to show art, as movie sets and for pure enjoyable urban exploration.
Statement of objective
I don’t think I should over explain myself when saying I’m drawn into dark and abandoned places. I believe we all got that impulse within ourselves. When we see a building we are curious to know what lies inside of it. How people live there. How they decorate their private intimate surroundings and how the architecture serves them. An abandoned house is almost like a free ticket for a visit inside. Even if it’s not always right by the law, most of the time there is nobody around it to hold you from going inside.
It all started with me and my DSLR exploring an abandoned house I’ve got a few blocks from my own house. It has always been there. Rotting and inviting, with a hole in the fens and a cracked open door, hidden behind a large front garden of thorny bushes. After taking photos of the outside of the house I dared going inside. With a pounding heart I roamed the empty rooms and corridors, imagining how life must have been when people still dwell there. Here and there I saw old and forgotten furniture. When I’ve reached the kitchen I was taken aback. It stood there, frozen in time, with dusty glasses on the kitchen desk and a few empty coke and wine bottles. On one wall a calendar was still hanged. It was January 2000 and two dates were marked – “memorial for grandpa” on the 19th, and another mark on the 2nd with only one word to indicate the whole story behind the empty and abandoned house: “Grandma”. Further investigation revealed who haunts the house and why it’s still empty after more than 10 years: After their mother death on the second of January 2000, the kids fought over the remaining property. The fight turned ugly and the court couldn’t help but drag it to an endless fight that could take many more years. Meanwhile the house stands in its emptiness, inviting all sorts of animals and people to visit.
That experience had driven me to the conclusion that every empty and deserted structure holds a story, and that I love the way that time sculptures a structure with a free impressionist hand. My first goal was to tell the story of only one derelict place in each town. During my first year of exploration I’ve added to my Ghost Town address book many locations. Among them there is a cinema house from the 30th at 57 Jabotinsky Street, a farm house at 46 Bialik Street, a Templar priest house at 53 Ha-Tishbi Street, a boarding school for girls at 53 Ha-Banim Street, a deserted warehouse at 14 Friedman Street, a Military factory and many other interesting places.
A thing that I couldn’t avoid from admiring was the use some street-art graffiti artists made of the walls. They’ve turned them into their canvass and painted beautiful and disturbing images upon them. These painted walls transformed the empty and deserted structure into an amazing art gallery open and free, aimed for the urban explorers of the city’s darkest corners. Taking the photos and video footage, and sharing it on the web, delivered the art from the darkest abandoned room to the screens of thousands. The idea wasn’t just sharing the art, but capturing some of the surrounding and atmosphere so the spectator could take part in the adventure. I’ve used Facebook and my blog to tell these stories, and very soon I met a vast community of urban explorers like myself, and a very secret and creative group of graffiti artists.
Though most of us live in an urban community, most of the time we are blind to the “haunted” houses that we have around us. By building “Our Living Ghost Town” I aim to invite each and every person to an adventure of the underworld architecture and art. I want to gather photos, video footage and historic information and make it possible for users to enjoy it and to contribute their own findings. It would be “OUR” so everyone could share, it would house the “Ghosts” of historic tales, and it would be a town with streets and life of its own.
New Media Aspects – Our vision
“Our Living Ghost Town” is a virtual ghost town city that exists on the web, built from houses and addresses of abandoned places in the real world. Each active user that will sign as a resident will be able to create a new address and build his own structure – It could be a house, a building, a factory or any other structure. When issuing a new address it will be available on the ever-growing town map. At this stage the user will upload his photos, videos and written information to the address web page, making it interesting for other people to visit and contribute.
For example, George Taylor is a new signed resident of “Our Living Ghost Town”. He opened a new address, which is 12 Baker Street. He identified the street as a small residential. Now the street and address is added to the map of “Our Living Ghost Town” and a small house-pin on the map indicates it is a place the other residents of the city can come and visit. George took photos of the real 12 Baker Street, and he uploaded it to the virtual address. He also wrote what he knows about it. After a while Jim Simmons added to the address a few of his own photos and one video he made. He wrote some of his impressions on the house virtual wall. Now 12 Baker Street has two people inhabiting it, making it a more interesting place. Since 12 Baker Street is a much known place in the real city of London, many other active residents of “Our Living Ghost Town” will be able to share their photos and impressions on the place, and though not many people saw its inside, the virtual address on “Our Living Ghost Town” will give them the chance to visit, and admire its inner architecture, graffiti and atmosphere.
Each address at “Out Living Ghost Town” will have a page which users will be able to share by Email, Facebook, and Twitter. A new virtual map of the city will be issued each week for the benefits of the signed residents, and they will be able to share it to their friends. The map itself will be the non-linear jumping point into the city different addresses.
With the help of our fellow citizens “Our Living Ghost Town” will come to life, and will be a sharing place for architecture, art and history. Users from all over the world will be able to explore the urban existence of the virtual town, and learn about the world that surrounds them. Street artists will be able to share their works, and invite others to write and contribute. Street photographers will be able to decorate the streets with their photos, and let the spectators experience the art while touring the city.
“Our Living Ghost Town” is like a “SimCity” virtual model. It will have its own life and it will grow with the help and love of its residents.
I contribute my own “Haunted Houses” to the project. 12 address of videos, photos and researched information.
You are welcome to visit them at: https://yanivberman.com/haunted-houses/