SDk03 - Editorial

This issue of SomethingDark marks two significant occasions: the relaunch of the webmagazine after a long struggle, and the death of one of our major contributors, the American writer Michael Hemmingson. Here, in these pages, Michael speaks to us from the grave: posthumously, we publish for the first time his intensely personal and controversial revelation, “Missing the paranormal in my life”. Together with his interview, even those who knew him intimately may have cause for reflection. We'll let readers ponder the unearthly possibility of a connection between Michael's extraordinary article and the continual stream of circumstances that tested our limits of patience, endurance and sanity.

SDk03 focusses on the built environment and urban decay and our featured artist, Australian Ros Paton, has been with us since 2008 for this issue. Paton conducts an odyssey through the death of the built environment by demolition, digging well below the surface of the debris she has so thoroughly explored and painted for a quarter-century. She captures in her art the almost-instant ruination, and its fleeting beauty, of the demolition process. Paton's complementary article provides insight into her inspiration and artistic development as well as a first-hand recounting of her artist's experience of corrupt state politics in Brisbane's lucrative development boom in the 1980s and early ’90s. Hanna ten Doornkaat follows with a different vision in a different medium: hers is an apocalyptic view of the metropolis in the face of exponential expansion and the aftermath of 9/11 and Fukushima.

In our Photography section we feature Lisa Furness, who was producing her images of the UK's urban past before the “ruin porn” of Detroit had made significant inroads in Britain. Her initial focus, and love, was for the discarded architectural treasures of Bristol, a former major inland port that thrived on trade with the New World; cocoa, sugar, tobacco, and slaves, were among the cargos shipped here.

Despite her overriding quest for a sublime aesthetic, her images of Bristol's last remaining chocolate factory are now a valuable documentary archive since most of it was demolished in 2015. Contrasting with Furness' work is the versatile German photographer Ulli Richter, and here we present a sample of his technically accomplished architectural photography. Richter makes another appearance as our second featured photographer further into this issue with pictures that are sure to raise eyebrows and inspire wry smiles. A keen sense of humour pervades Richter's compositions as much as masculine eroticism, and making this series so memorable is the vast and abandoned Beelitz hospital complex in eastern Germany that he presses into service as such an evocative canvas.

Artist and writer Howard Litchfield, working in conjunction with photographer–partner Pete Beck, has at our request provided a unique and astounding photographic series that conjures the bullheaded man of classical mythology to the contemporary urban environment. Litchfield's companion essay leads us through a labyrinth, beginning with the Surrealists' adoption of the minotaur as a signifier for their investigation of the modern city's psychogeography. From 1930s Paris we move through the postmodern metropolis to the digital mazes of the twenty-first century, where we encounter new and uncharted thoroughfares that may not be all they appear to be during these first, tentative steps into an undefined era. The minotaur, as with all mythology, is a reflection of ourselves, and Litchfield argues we have the potential to shape our own future. This essay is supported by a “word drawing” in the Fet(ish) section, further demonstrating Litchfield's wide spread of creative talent.

Travel photography is not a genre that normally suggests associations with SomethingDark, but British photographer David Hicks' work is exceptional.

This issue marks SomethingDark's
relaunch and the death of a contributor,
writer Michael Hemmingson.