Research Items

Entropy tears apart our creations. It is destroying what exists to make way for new growth. If we suddenly disappear, cities will gradually be reclaimed by nature. Life can pop up anywhere and adapt, even to a rough and chaotic environment. My current work is centered around the questions “What will the ruins of our civilization look like?” and “Which species will survive?”

Therefore, I research abandoned places and ghost towns. I am looking into patterns, into the ways that events flow from one to the next after humans have disappeared and into the means by which new things develop out of old ones. I study the dissolution of patterns, the destruction of matter and show an artistic vision of the future.

Live fast, die young - Rhyolite, NV

Union Pacific railroad wagon

Union Pacific railroad wagon

There is always a uncertainty of outcome in life. Rhyolite used to be the third largest town in Nevada during the early 1900s. The gold rush settlement grew from a two-man camp in January 1905 to a town of 1,200 in two weeks, and reached a population of 2,500 by June. If you read through old newspaper articles of the Rhyolite Herald, you get a feeling of its glory days. Thousand of gold-seekers, developers and miners were attracted by the prospecting discover. While mining had rewards for some, for many others the desert only brought frustration.

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During its peak between 1905-1911, Rhyolite boomed with a population 6,000 to 8,000. In 1906, industrialist Charles M. Schwab bought the Montgomery-Shoshone Mine. He invested heavily in the infrastructure of the town. Water pipes, electric, telephone and telegraph lines as well as a railroad was built. Three banks and a stock exchange opened. 50 saloons with 35 gambling tables lined the streets and prostitution flourished. The town had19 lodging houses, 18 stores, 16 restaurants, two churches, a hospital, police station, fire department, post office, school, opera and public bath house.

Ruins of the John S. Cook and Co. Bank

Ruins of the John S. Cook and Co. Bank

The three-story high John S. Cook and Co. Bank was a statement in Rhyolite. The most prominent building had Italian marble stairs and imported stained-glass windows. The building cost more than $90,000 with all its luxuries. But soon the richest gold ore was exhausted and production fell. The financial panic of 1907 was the beginning of the end for the town. In the next few years mines started closing and banks failed. The population dropped below 1000. The last train left Rhyolite in 1914. The power company tuned off the electricity and removed its lines two years later. In 1924, the last resident passed away - the population was zero.

The Train depot became the Rhyolite Ghost Casino in 1937

The Train depot became the Rhyolite Ghost Casino in 1937

Behind the building  

Behind the building

 

Two-story eight-room school for 250 children

Two-story eight-room school for 250 children