urban exploration : dead meat


An urban research group in Tartu was looking at the phenomenon of urban exploration. Rather than simply sit around and talk about I suggested to make a small urban exploration trip somewhere in the city. Out of a few interesting possibilities we decided on the former meat factory, a site full of urban legends, as it is fairly central and easily accessible. This meat factory stopped production some time in the early 1990s but the evidence of their production is still visible everywhere. On the third floor there are literally rooms filled with piles of bones from what appeared to be sheep. The rest of the building is mostly trashed. It seems to be a popular to practice graffiti and make fires. The highlight was the view from the roof and being able to make a few sound recordings with the group.

One important idea for me is to not only explore these types of hidden or abandoned spaces, but to instigate some creative activity while visiting. While abandoned spaces may not be valuable for the society, they offer creative potential for the individual, who often forgets how much the everyday social codes, laws and regulations of the urban environment confines their mode of living. Once these boundaries or removed, even the very experience of navigating and sensing the urban space must be reconsidered, opening potentials for more creative exploration (however short or ephemeral). These two recordings give some idea on how working with sound can allow one to interact with the material objects and forms of the space. The first case was more of a simple walking action on the broken glass while the second was more of an improvisation with all the available materials throughout the space.

former meat factory – walking action (3:20) Tartu, Estonia:

former meat factory – sound action (7:28) Tartu, Estonia:

Special thanks to Sven and the others from Linnaseminar for this trip. Also, Tanel Saimre from Tartu has a nice page of binaural recordings made around Tartu. He has a recording of the same sound action but from another angle (his head!). Tanel Siamre recording

UPDATE: Nov. 5th 2008 – the former meat factory has been demolished. Someone said they wanted to convert it into apartments or something, but I think it needs to be torn down before anything new is built there (see the last photo in the gallery).


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4 thoughts on “urban exploration : dead meat

  • Seth nehil

    I really appreciate the difference between the first and second sound action recordings, because they mirror the difference between observer and participant – listener and player. I’ve experienced both sides of the equation and I can relate to the way a wandering sound produces interaction across distance and amplifies the “partness” among the wholeness. Contributing sounds which we know will hit every other set of ears in a different way. It’s unfortunate that U.E. is much more difficult in the States. I don’t have the guts to bring people and equipment into situations of illegal trespass, though it seems I will have permission to record in a bomb shelter from the 1920’s in early April. Cleansed of previous history but still a fantastic resonance.

  • Mschuler

    Quite excellent – that space really needs a much more extensive photographic exploration. I haven’t had a chance to listen yet, but will jump on that…

  • enemyairships

    Incredible photos. I know I’m a little late, but I stumbled across this article when browsing google images. Derelict buildings fascinate me no end and they always inspire me to write something. I’m glad there’s someone else out there who sees the potential in worthless bricks and mortar!