Wheel of Life

Uploaded 5 May 2010 — 3 favorites
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© Joshua Ball
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More of Joshua Ball’s Photos

  • Escalator Empathy
  • Wheel of Life
  • Illumination
  • Simple Nature

Photo license: © All rights reserved

This image was taken at an abandoned power plant in Dixmoor, IL, a suburb of Chicago. After a little research, I discovered the location through a few urban explorer websites. It sounded promising and my brother Jeff (JeffBallPhotography.com) and I decided it might be worth checking out. The site had a few small buildings that surrounded a large concrete structure. We explored these first and quickly moved on. The center structure looked rather uninteresting as there were no windows or obvious entry points. I was beginning to doubt whether this location was worth the detour but my reservations were quickly subdued once we actually entered the building.

The first room we walked in to looked like something out of a horror movie. There were large boilers on one side of a long hallways with rusted pipes jutting out in every direction across the ceiling. The floor was damp, dark and cluttered with debris. The wall opposite the boilers was covered in cob webs and their a door that led to nothing but blackness. On the other end of the long hallway, a set of stairs was visible. As I started to move towards them, something scurried along the floor behind the boilers. As odd as it sounds, I knew then that this is definitely where we wanted to be.

Jeff and I quickly separated and we began to wander around the building on our own. Every so often I would yell his name and listen for his reply. It was a crude communication system but it served two purposes; it let potential inhabitants know that there was more than just one person there, and it let me know that he wasn’t hurt or in danger. As we ventured further into the building, it became apparent that the vast network of piping and catwalks had been abandoned for quite some time. Visually, this building was absolutely amazing. As a photographer, I was overwhelmed by all the potential photo opportunities. It was difficult to narrow in on a particular image but when I came across this rusty wheel valve, I couldn’t take my eye off of it. It jutted out from a pillar near the center of the building and it somehow appeared both proud and sad. Its purpose had long faded but its pride remained.

The thing that stands out to me in this image is the the texture of the rust. Rust is usually a troublesome thing. It plagues our everyday lives by attacking the many material things that we collect. We do our best to prevent it but oxidation is a natural chemical reaction, and it always wins! This urban exploration project has put me face to face with a lot of rusty items, and in some ways, it has given me a better respect for the beauty of it. When you stop and really examine it, rust is a beautiful thing. It develops in random patterns, stakes a claim and slowly crawls across the surface until it eventually consumes it’s host. The pitted peaks and grooved valleys become art within itself. It’s one of mother nature’s many canvases, and it isn’t meant to last. The rusty object in this image is doomed. It may

2 responses

  • Adrienne Talbot

    Adrienne Talbot gave props (30 May 2010):

    This is a beauty...you are not a late Bloomer lol...I didnt begin serious interest in Photography untill I went back to school to study Art at 40! Your photograph above is a perfect example of "wabi sabi"

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