Building reefs, modern ruins and other hybrids.


Economic crisis has left many abandoned buildings and urbanizations all over the world. Due to the lack of maintenance, all these constructions have been invaded by the forces of nature. Progressively the soil has blocked the drains, the water starts to flow around, traces of mould appear in the walls and ceilings, vegetation grows spontaneously inside the cracks, insects move freely, and the birds inhabit the roofs.

Bruno Latour argues that we are truly modern when we accept the following two dichotomies: the first one establishes a clear difference between Nonhumans Nature and Humans Culture and the second one considers new types of beings, hybrids of nature and culture. Abandoned buildings where once artifacts created by the Human Culture, but as time goes by, they have been hybridized with nature.

perezromero_figure_1Figure 1. Tikal ancient ruins, in Guatemala, are tree-covered hillocks. Over the years archeologists have been fighting against nature to excavate the ruins. The six photographs show the process of excavation. From the first to the last, archeologists have been removing the trees, the vegetation and the soil. Assuming that, any of the
photographs show a pure natural or cultural artifact, it is possible to suggest that we are facing a work of purification. In this regard, the first picture represents a Nonhuman Nature while the last one shows a Human Cultural artifact. The two photographs in the middle show a hybrid state of nature and culture. Auxiliary resources, as scaffoldings, represent a temporary structure hybridized with nature. This state is probably the most remarkable one in terms of hybridization.

As the work of purification made by the archeologist in Tikal, usually preservation is oriented to recover a Human Cultural artifact. From this point of view, degrowth understood as the opposite of the work of purification, is a process of hybridization between nature and culture.
The Miami-Dade County Artificial Reef Program has been running since 1981. Over this period the County has built artificial reefs by sinking an extensive amount of demolished material and obsolete vessels, oil platforms and U.S. Army military tanks.

perezromero_figure_9Figure 2- Over a period of 15 years the vessel Spiegel Gove has been gradually wrapped with reef-building organism.