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"Rust" ©2002 by Daniel J. Bornt

The Lure of Industrial Imagery

The implementation of the NAFTA and GATT treaties in the 1990's only hastened a subtle transformation of the American economy that had already been underway for some decades. As America goes high-tech, seeking the cleaner, leaner lower-key industries that accompany the brain trusts and the information developers, the heavier industrial manufacturers, unwilling to invest the capital required to upgrade their aging industrial cores, shift their operations beyond the borders where new economies with teeming populations are eager for the investment of new factories to put their people to work.

America's abandoned industrial complexes should be of great interest to art historians, not because they represent any special existing artistic endeavors (aside from the architectural dilemmas involved in placing and coordinating all the disparate structures and elements to make the complexes work efficiently) but because of the potential subject matter they can offer to any artist seeking an architectonic and industrial stimulus for his/her future works.

Here, amongst the detritus and ruins where capitalism and labor have met on a uneasy battleground to produce the products of America's industrial might, remain the quintessential shapes, lines, and colors of the artist's toolbox. The patina of the rusting derrick, its angular elements silhouetted against the backdrop of a leaning water tower reflecting the setting sun, the crumbling buildings with their patterns of multicolored bricks whose clay cores are slowly disintegrating back into the earth from whence they came, the squatting tarnished boilers, the spaulding concrete walls, and the gridwork of oxidized beams and columns can provide a potpourri of inspirations for those inclined to read the stories.

The goal of this website is to display various industrial photographs and drawings by its author, and also to provide links to external sites of similar subject matter for the artist or art historian seeking the inspiration or connection of industrial imagery.

- Daniel John Bornt 2002




ADM "Bean Mill", Champaign, Illinois
- all photographs ©2002 by Daniel J. Bornt, free use to website visitors granted
- all photographs 4" x 6" original scanned at 150 dpi true color.

Old copper mine, Houghton, MI - all photographs ©2003 by Barry Dillon
- all photographs 4" x 6" original scanned at 150 dpi true color.

site last updated: 8 Sept. 2003


Indiana University Digital Library Program: U.S. Steel Gary Works Photograph Collection 1906-1971 (