Sunday, April 4, 2010

Urban Exploration... Kodak Building 9

A few days ago, my friend and fellow photographer, Courtney McIntosh, posted a status update on Facebook that immediately caught my attention. She was waking up at dawn to photograph an abandoned building. I was intrigued... even more so when she started posting her amazing images. When I messaged her for more information, she identified the abandoned building to be Kodak Bldg 9 and I knew immediately that I had to check it out.

Vince and I headed over the very next day. I wasn't sure what to expect and was a little apprehensive about the whole thing but Vince was even more apprehensive so I had to put on my brave face. We explored the areas of floors 2, 3, 4 that were lit by bright sunshine and made our way up to the rooftop. It was incredibly dark on the main floor and I am not ashamed to admit that I was scared to go downstairs. So I peeked down, looked around, and declared there to be nothing interesting... even though I was sure there would be plenty to photograph.

The parts that we did explore were filled with graffiti, vandalism, and junk. A little bit of history about the building (from a variety of online sources): due to the decline of film, the Canadian Kodak Company's manufacturing complex located at Black Creek and Eglinton was basically abandoned in 2005/2006. All but one of the buildings was demolished so all that remains today is the Employees' Building, constructed in 1939 and also known as Building No. 9. The land has been purchased by a developer; however, some additional research revealed that Building 9 appears to have been saved after it was declared to possess several heritage attributes - read more here.

What makes me feel a little wistful, besides the obvious impact of the digital age on film as a medium, is that this building was proposed to be an Ontario heritage building yet was still allowed to fall into such disarray. Whenever I look at the two photos included in the PDF link above, I feel nostalgia for the building's character, history, and purpose.

There is one further detail that made this urban exploration even more meaningful. Vince used to work at Kodak. In fact, he worked at this very complex for about a year until the department was shut down. His job involved packing photo paper into boxes. I asked if he got papercuts and he said tons. I asked why he didn't wear gloves and he said because he found them too cumbersome. YIKES... all I could picture is his blood staining the shiny white paper. Yes, I have a bit of an overactive imagination - especially for gory details. Vince remembers the area but not Building 9.

I'll admit that I was getting more and more creeped out the longer we stayed. I haven't done a slideshow in a while and I decided to create one for this project. I'd like to return to Building 9 for some further exploration (perhaps with a few more people next time!) because I've seen older images that show how much the abandoned building has changed over time. There used to be full curtains, toppled over furniture, less graffiti, more junk... which makes me wish I had somehow discovered this place sooner.

Alright, now for the slideshow - I am really excited to share this one. There is a little surprise towards the end... a sneak peek of something new at LWP that we will hopefully be incorporating into more of our sessions. The slideshow is about 3 minutes in length and contains many more images of the interior. I hope you enjoy it!

One last image to end this post: I love this illustration that was posted in 2008 on for Illustration Sunday:

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