Urban explorer Thomas Windisch captures unseen views of medical facilities that have been left to decay. Take a look at some of his astonishing, affecting images

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All images © Thomas Windisch

 

What’s the furthest off the beaten track you’ve ventured for a good photograph?

If you’re picturing that time you leaned slightly over a gate with a ‘Keep Out’ sign on it, then it’s safe to say you probably haven’t been quite as brave as Thomas Windisch. Passionate about urban exploration, Thomas’s day-to-day life involves getting into places all over Europe that have been consigned to dust and neglect, and everywhere he goes his camera goes with him.

 

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The haunting images you see on this page are part of his ‘Medical’ series, which involves exploring abandoned hospitals and asylums. You could be forgiven for finding them a little disturbing, but they are, without a doubt, entirely compelling. Scroll down to see more, and read our quick chat with Thomas about the series.

 

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Amateur Photographer: What inspired you to start photographing abandoned buildings such as these?

Thomas Windisch: To be honest I slid into it somehow. I visited a few locations and got addicted to what time can do to things mankind created and left behind. I’m not the guy taking the zillionth mainstream fashion/beauty photograph in a studio.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the creative people and wedding shoots I do, but few faces tell such strong stories like abandoned places do.

 

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AP: What does urban exploration mean to you?

TW: Well, there’s no much left to explore, except for some remote corners in the world or the macro/microcosm, so urban exploration is one possibillity to rediscover things, mankind has forgotten. So this hobby combines my passion for photography with my interest in history and travelling around.

 

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AP: Many people could potentially find these images – of abandoned medical equipment and dilapidated hospitals – to be disturbing or unsettling. Was this an effect you had in mind when creating the series?

TW: Of course. In times of digital photography and the internet, we all get flooded with pictures everyday and we tend to ignore 99% of them. The ones we apperceive, are pictures we dont see everyday and which trigger emotions or memories.

 

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AP: At the same time, many of the images are undeniably beautiful? What do you think of the combination of the beautiful and the unsettling?

TW: The beauty in decay is, when you can imagine a place like it was many years before, which is now decayed, populated by spiders and other insects and mother nature growing through the windows, reclaiming what once belonged to her. I think we tend to romanticise nature taking back things built by humans because we enjoy nature in general and realise that nothing lasts forever.

 

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AP: Are there any specific photos from that series that are particularly meaningful for you?

TW: Personally I prefer details instead of wide shots but of course I want to show as much of the location as possible. If you show ten people wide-angle shots, you get almost the same feedback – they like it or not. If you do that with details, nine out of ten come up with their own story they associate with the picture.

 

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See more from Thomas at his website, thw.photography, and support him on Patreon at patreon.com/twindisch

  • Matt Emmett

    Some crackers in there. The Manicomio’s of Italy are my own personal favourites.

  • entoman

    An unusual, inspiring and slightly disturbing set showing documentary photography at its best. Images like this are very important historically. I dread to think of what future generations will think of 20th/21st century medicine! It will surely seem very barbaric in hindsight.