Here I have collected images of different eras colliding in a single frame. Intersecting in one near-silent click of a shutter are transient establishments and technology, as well as the physical, economic, and social conditions that endured in their time. These are the relics of our institutions, and these images capture layers of their past and present. My goal is to capture the feelings of mystery, sadness, excitement, intrigue, or other emotions an individual experiences in an abandoned human institution.

Dentist's Chair

The silence and calm in an abandonment together with its interwoven layers allow the viewer an opportunity to feel a latent human presence not normally experienced. This feeling is more visceral than everyday experience: the gravity of decaying traces of human activity, without the physical human presence.


Some examples of these layers may help viewers connect with the images. There is ongoing evidence such as fresh footprints on the floor, cigarette butts, and the smell of yellowing books. Remnants of a past era, once new with hope and potential, now lay forgotten: intricately decorated metal doorknobs, a dentist's light still peering at its chair, and dated, rusty machinery. Most intriguing to me are the private or personal bits, the layers left by individuals in a moment of haste or dismissal: a poster left on the wall, a torn piece of paper still in a typewriter, and sentimental romance novels with passages underlined left in a reception desk drawer. Although very different from place to place, there is one universal theme: the gradual loss of their intended - that is, human - purpose.

Overgrown Window

Science and art tell us all things decay, that there is a tendency toward entropy, the loss of useful energy. Like an untended garden will start to become part of the landscape, adjusted according to the whims of nature, these places retain recognizable parts of their past adapted to new circumstances. In them, the battle for control over nature is, at least temporarily, lost - they contain the poignancy of futile endeavors left unfinished or as failures. It is in one sense tragic: decline and the fall from order and control; but in another sense it is the natural, higher order of things.

Viewers can think of these images as capturing the residue of time; institutional settings in their ripe old age. The scenes are in the transition between their peak as human institutions and their return to nature. Here we see traces of life, upheaval, and gradual decline.

Take some time to browse the gallery of Traces images. Do the images resonate with you as they do with me? What other feelings do they evoke?