What is it about being inside buildings that are no longer inhabited? About seeing every room from bottom to top and back again, making little discoveries of items left behind or even in situ, that draws so many people to explore? Abandoned exploration must be as old as structures that have been left to time and the elements, and the behavior (for better or worse) of those who've entered and exited since that abandonment. There just doesn't seem to be a word to describe the want of experiencing a place that has been transformed into the badlands refuge of a dystopian blockbuster movie.
That same pull of the apocalyptic is something we see in The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, 45 other Walking Dead spinoffs, and the entire zeitgeist of zombie culture in film and TV. It's no surprise that we want to know what our existence could be imagined as if we were the last of our species on earth, whether we had to defensively fight off our reanimated selves or not, being in the presence of this wasteland aesthetic just has a pull to it.
There seem to be no words in the English language I can find to articulate this feeling, and no turn-of-phrase comes to mind. So, for lack of anything already linguistically established, I simply translated into French what I find to be the most appropriate way to describe the way abandoned places are left, and the way it feels to be within them. It's the feeling of an "état étrange", or "strange state." Something liminal, something untoward; something unsettling but not threatening. The uncanny valley of spaces, more so than people, but including that feeling a person experiences in the space as well. It's like a suspended reality where the mind is seeing what's in front of it, molded, wallpaper peeling, ceiling dripping, but the mind is also imagining backward into a state of un-decay. Being in an abandoned building is like being suspended between then and now. I simply don't have any other way to describe what this is, or what this longing to see these things for oneself is. An emotion? A feeling? A need? A cognitive necessity from ancient, obsolete DNA?
Or just a strange state?
I hope the video below inspires an état étrange. Savourez-le et profitez-en!