"Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints." This is the unspoken rule of urban explorers, who sometimes risk their safety, police records, and even their lives to explore abandoned buildings, sewers and storm drains, transit tunnels, utility tunnels, high-security areas of inhabited buildings, and even catacombs such as those in Chenobyl, Rome, Odessa and Naples. Although these urban explorers usually work solo or in small teams, they collectively put forth a ground cry against a modern culture that embraces the new, polished, uniform, and mundane. Beauty in Decay features the best in full-color, panoramic photographs from urban exploration or Urbex around the world. Overgrown industrial complexes, disused lunatic asylums, abandoned palaces and forgotten monasteries are showcased, and paired with clear-sighted, poetic text. Just who decides which doors are closed in our world and whose interests do they serve? Do we wish to be kept in the dark, permanently safe, free from either harm or adventure? For all of us there is a deep attraction to be found in opening these doors.
They open a rift in our collected experiences and throw new light on the boundaries we've all been forced to accept. There is only one way to find out what's hidden behind these barriers. Sit back, hold on and surrender to your imagination as we unlock the door to an extraordinary unseen world of beauty in decay. What's the Story with Urban Exploration? It's easy to describe what an Urban Explorer does; they infiltrate into abandoned buildings and industrial sites and explore them, often taking photographs along the way. They don't steal, vandalise or even leave graffiti behind them. In fact their code of honour is reminiscent of the rambler's way: Take only pictures, leave only footprints. It is, on the other hand, not so easy to describe the whys and wherefores. Think back to your childhood for a moment and it all begins to make sense. Do you remember the terrifying yet seductive draw of the archetypal haunted house? Every neighbourhood and every childhood has one. At the very point we cross the border from childhood into adolescence we cross real physical borders too. It's the moment in our lives when we test the boundaries.
We finally pluck up the courage to break into the haunted house and take a look around. You can probably remember your own experiences of this. And there will be at least one. The Urban Explorer feels that we, in the comfortable and over-protected 'first world' are living in an enforced and extended state of childhood. They have remembered that they are capable of having unmediated experiences of reality and they welcome the fear that may (or may not) come with those experiences. The fear itself is the gateway to go through. It's the gateway that leads for many to 'wonderland'. This is the world through the looking glass that in some dark corner of every soul, we are all looking for. The strange thing then is not that Urban Explorers exist; it's that the rest of us have forgotten that we are Urban Explorers too.