Modern Ruins

Portraits of Place in the Mid-Atlantic Region

By (photographer) Shaun O'Boyle Introduction by Geoff Manaugh

Hardback - £34.95

Publication date:

08 October 2010

Length of book:

120 pages

Publisher

Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271036847

Shaun O’Boyle has been photographing ruined landscapes and buildings, primarily in the mid-Atlantic region, for more than twenty-five years. This collection of photographs features some of his best work. The book is divided into four sections, each representing a type of site now abandoned—prisons and mental health institutions, steel production facilities, coal mining and processing facilities, and a weapons arsenal. These photographs are hauntingly beautiful; they are also historically and culturally instructive.

Modern Ruins begins with an introduction by architectural essayist Geoff Manaugh, who offers insight into why people are so drawn to ruins and what they might mean to us in a larger psychological sense. Brief essays by noted historians Curt Miner, Kenneth Warren, Kenneth Wolensky, and Thomas Lewis offer social and historical contexts for the sites documented in the book. These sites include Eastern State Penitentiary, Bethlehem Steel, and Bannerman's Island Arsenal, among others. The book concludes with an interview with the photographer that touches on his fascination with ruins and explores some of his procedures for documenting them. Modern Ruins is a compelling collection of stunning and melancholy photographs, one that helps us hear these abandoned places speak.

“[Shaun] O’Boyle documents these subtle ruins that surround us every day. He beautifully captures the hidden beauty of abandoned sites such as the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Bethlehem Steel, and the Bannerman Island Arsenal in New York.”

—Megan Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette