Sebastien's first photo exhibit

sebastien unnoticed

The old Starlight Music Theater in Latham

Check it out: An exhibit of Sebastien's urban decay photos is currently up at Uncommon Grounds in Albany. From his post about "The Unnoticed":

Moving here from France, I have always been interested in architecture; how a "new country" like the U.S. deals with its buildings and infrastructure. How and why do people abandon places, leaving everything behind: bikes, clothes, cards, teddy bears? Buildings come out of the ground very quickly, but can be abandoned or destroyed just as fast. I attempt to capture this unique feeling of time at work, a frozen memory before it all collapses. Behind those places that are so full of waste and decay, I try to find one splash of color or light, one beautiful thing -- such as flowers growing through a broken window. I try to offer a glimpse into a world where this chaos might, sooner or later, turn into something different, old or new. This is hopefully what you will see in this show.

You might recognize a few of the photos from when they were posted on AOA. We appreciate that Sebastien has shared them with us -- we've really enjoyed posting them.

Also: Have you seen fellow urban explorer Bennett's photo site?

photo: Sebastien Barre


Sebastien's photos -- and his adventurous spirit -- are a great inspiration to people like me, who want to shoot more interesting pictures.

sure the pictures are great. But does it bother anyone that most photos "exposing" "urban decay" involve the photographer tresspassing onto private property?

Really proud of Sebastien for getting this all together and having his work in the public; it's been a while coming, he doesn't halfass this stuff.

While we're on the topic, there are a few other locals with photoblogs: The Exiles, Kim D, and Bob F come to mind, and they all have great stuff too look at. I'm sure I'm missing a few.

This is wack. Paul's is better.

It's all right... I'm used to being forgotten about... :(

Bravo Sebastien! I'll definitely be over there to check it out. Much as I love seeing the work of all the talented photographers online, I love seeing real physical photos once in a while.

Thanks for the shout B!

And to answer nonsaid's question: it certainly doesn't bother me if like Sebastien they are 1) taking responsibility for their own safety, 2) doing nothing to damage the property or its contents; why should it?

Thanks for the link, AOA, you helped a lot. This was one big experiment, the show and the book, just trying something new and a bit different with the material I have. I promise there won't be a movie.

@nonsaid: yes we are trespassing. What can I say. It's a tricky subject. I'm not from here, I've a different relationship to buildings, maybe a twisted one. Of course we will not enter a property that is inhabited, but when I look at a structure that is 100, 300, 600 or more years old, it is hard for me to take the concept of "private property" seriously. Fear not, the police does and has kicked us out. I "bought" a house in Center Square years ago, but I do not feel like I *own* the building, it's not *mine*, it was built before me, I'm just a visitor, spending a bit of my life within its walls. The building carries my memories for a bit, and the memories of people before and after me. It will most likely stand after I die, but sometimes these old places crumble and collapse, and this is when I seize the opportunity to capture a bit of this history.

In the big picture I don't feel comfortable claiming ownership of something that is older than me, on a land that is even older. This sounds backwards to me, I don't want to create artificial/legal walls that are only meant to mask my fear of what is outside, at my door. If the housing market crisis last year is telling me one thing too, it's that we live in the illusion of ownership anyway. I can't claim I'm an environmentalist, far from it, but this scales pretty well to what we see in the news every other month: look at what's happening in the Gulf. We claimed ownership of this oil, and here is what we did with it...

@Richie: Paul's *is* better. I owe Paul and he knows it. Also he has fantastic hair that I'm jealous of.

@Chuck: you have a blog on the popular TimesUnion platform, and supernatural Trivia power, come on :)

@the_exile: we take responsibility for our own safety (in that I had zilch problem getting kicked out of a building that was indeed unsafe, for example), and we are careful not to disturb anything (in that we will make fun of each other if we move one goddamn piece of grass out of the camera frame :)

nonsaid: Sebastien posted the philosophical side. Not much more to say except yes, this usually involves trespassing, and I guess if it bothers someone, I apologize? I do think there's a difference when we're talking about buildings that the owners have left to rot. This is not some gateway drug to breaking into brownstones on Lark Street to take photos of people while they're sleeping. If you think this is bad, don't look up the "urban explorers" who break into active sites off-hours, it may give you the vapors.

Ritchie: yep, Paul's stuff is super good, he's taught me a thing or five.

Chuck: I just skipped over you because you shoot so much film. Get with the times, man, it's like a unicorn refusing to board the ark.

I love photos like these, sad yet beautiful.

Our country was built by people who abandoned their old homelands. We continue to abandon our own places, don't we?

It's interesting to see that the spirit of Alexis de Tocqueville is still alive. Except, after all these years, Democracy in America shows some cracks.

This is fine work. I like it very much.


Congratulations Sebastian. Good to see you are getting some recognition for your amazing work! I can't wait to see it in person!

I saw the interview about this exhibit in Sunday's Record and thought of AOA. I kind of think of this site as his second "home" (another one he does not own :) ).

Whenever you post -S's photos on here, I check out the gallery and am never disappointed. I love photography, and envy people who have that artistic eye. -S's are some of my favorite images locally and, although I often feel out of place at exhibits, I really hope to make it to this show.

Thanks for the kind words guys.

@kristi: Thanks! You/we are a fan of AOA, so most likely you saw these photos here before. Now that I'm less busy I'm looking for new material: we have resumed our little explorations. As I mentioned in my post, there is something different about sharing one's work in a physical form, and hopefully this will be a better experience for a few people too. The bagels won't hurt to digest the whole thing :) It was interesting to try; retrospectively I wish I had printed bigger, but I'm already filling the whole space at Uncommon Grounds. If the show moves to a gallery later, and maybe it will, I might try to immerse the viewer more with a smaller series and larger prints.

I'd like to add, to Rob and you: if you like photography, nothing is impossible. I don't think I'll ever be good at painting, but if you check my photos from 2005/2006 (please don't), they are terrible. Craptastic. One could argue that they aren't any good now, but I know I got better :) This is all you need, shoot often, and shoot what you like. You are right, checking other people's work is a plus: I glance at dozens of photos every day, it helps me find inspiration and put my own stuff in perspective. It's your own journey, really, no need to hurry :)

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