Remote control urbex on TV

Drones in forbidden zonesChannel 4 has been running a series of docu-shorts exploring derelict and abandoned sites using drones.  Each ‘Drones in Forbidden Zones‘ film is approximately 2-3 minutes long, and comprises fly-through and fly-over of a variety of different sites in the UK, including power station cooling towers, an abandoned theme park, and Crossrail.  The atmospheric films have included commentary from people involved with the site as former workers, residents and explorers.  At the intersection of heritage, urbex and what has been labelled in some instances ‘ruin porn‘ or ‘rustalgia‘, the films are nonetheless instructive in presenting depictions of sites and buildings in the process of ‘becoming’ – becoming derelict; becoming ruins; becoming heritage sites; becoming complete; or becoming something else.

Ruins and derelict sites have become a distinct subject of exhibition and study of late. Ruin Lust (held at the Tate Gallery) is notable for providing a wide art history context, whilst Bradley Garrett’s ‘Explore Everything: Place-hacking the City‘ considers the behavioural aspects of adventure and opportunity in trying to experience cities via off-limits or forgotten spaces.

Author: Ian Baxter

Heritage management / historic preservation academic at Heriot-Watt University; Vice-Chair of the Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS); Trustee of The Heritage Alliance. Obsessed by administrative histories of heritage organisations, heritage signs, and the design of site guidebooks.

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