The City as Playground
Dark Passage was conceived in 1998 with the purpose of perpetuating the spirit of the long-defunct San Francisco Suicide Club.
In the late 1970s the Suicide Club organized renegade events in infiltrated spaces under the motto of living "each day as if it were the last." When it disbanded, some of its former members created the similarly spirited Cacophony Society, with chapters in Los Angeles, Detroit, Brooklyn and other cities. It was at a Brooklyn Cacophony meeting that the main instigators of Dark Passage first connected. The other New York group evolving from these meetings — focused less on a transformation of ruinous spaces than on artistic street events — was the Madagascar Institute, with which we have always been heavily interlinked.
In the course of organizing clandestine scavenger hunts and other frivolities, Dark Passage has discovered a plethora of derelict sites, the exploration of which has fed an ever more urgent obsession. Rather than seeing the documentation of these spaces as an end in itself, it is meant as fodder for further creative projects. In the meantime, however, some of the photos and stories resulting from our excursions are presented on this site.
We are always glad to hear from people with whom this site has found resonance. We particularly like to hear about others' experiences and thoughts on architectural decay and are grateful for the contacts we have established over the years.
While we do not generally announce our events in advance, we still encourage involvement. If you are in the New York City area and would like to partake in a public appreciation of decrepitude, you might want to check out Ars Subterranea, an organization that arose out of the desire to bring the Dark Passage aesthetic to a more accessible (albeit less superdangerous) level.
Please feel free to contact us here. Who knows what adventures the future may hold?
Ars Subterranea: The Society for Creative Preservation
New York Underground
We have collaborated with quite a few people over the years, many of whom do not have individual websites. Here are a few of our regular accomplices who do.
Bryan Papciak and Jeff Sias
Hackett / The Madagascar Institute
Phat Man Dee
Ruins in ASCII
Survivors of the San Francisco Suicide Club
Fantastic Degradation :: Collaboration between Suzy Poling and Julia Solis
Furnace Press :: Small press focusing on urban ruins
Stages of Decay :: A slideshow of abandoned theaters
Met State :: Excellent short film by Bryan Papciak set in the Hospital of Seven Teeth
American Ruins :: Feature film in the works by Bryan Papciak and Jeff Sias
A Symphony of Exit Signs :: Tim Noble's composition based on the Hospital Hopscotch page
Asylum :: A painting by David Bastille based on Elegant Decrepitude
A larger list of assorted resources can be found on the Ars Subterranea website.