Ghosts and the Machine:
A Wander through the New Wastelands of Ireland.
This piece is the first in a series of essays and audio/visual journeys through the changing landscapes of Ireland. Over the last 20 years Ireland has experienced a period of rapid economic development followed by a sharp fiscal decline. The boom and bust of the Celtic Tiger to PIIG status has had a dramatic and highly destructive effect on the physical geography of the country, radically altering the highways and byways of the land. One of the most visible side effects has been proliferation of unfinished and unoccupied housing estates, commonly referred to as ‘ghost estates’, strange concrete wastelands and ruins that plague the terrain of every county in Ireland.
The aim of the project is quite open. It began when two members of CBiS made a short visit to Ireland earlier this year. The visit was intended as a an attempt to gather images and ideas about what effect economic boom and bust has on the landscape and people who inhabit these environments. Much of what you read here based on not only external research into the subject, but also on conversation and ideas that occurred during the trip, and upon my struggle to come to terms with my own place within this disrupted environment.
The title to this project may give some clues about the pieces’ methodological, political and philosophical concerns. The idea of ‘wandering’ on one hand suggests a free flowing, multi-directional movement with no central foci. However the notion of wandering is also deeply connected the practice of derive, a current of Psychogeography that attempts unplanned and subversive journeys through usually urban landscapes. Here there is an attempt to use the history of one’s surroundings to radically critique contemporary mode of being, or current economic processes. Therefore, we can begin to think of the ghosts of the title as not only representing the unoccupied houses and other development that blight the landscape, but as also speaking for the concerns of the past, the people and politics that have preceded us, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding (an understanding that transcends current concerns with policy and practice) into the processes that have led the country to the unenviable position it now finds itself in. [more]
Words: Paddy Baxter Photos: Paddy Baxter & Huw Wahl