UBC Graduate Research

Pleasurably Painful : Biological horror as interpretation and design methodology for new aesthetic experiences in industrial ruins Lam, Mason


Pleasurably Painful is a conceptual exploration on the usage of biological horror as a lens to view and design industrial ruin sites. Suspended between stages of decline and redevelopment, these sites are largely regarded as worthless areas and are quick to be designed into parks or housing. However, this effaces the potential for new aesthetic experiences in industrial ruins, which can deepen our understanding of the complex urban landscape. The aesthetic of the post-industrial site is associated with the sublime, a landscape character which overwhelms the mind in a way that has been described as “pleasurably painful.” This project argues that horror fiction, an experience that is similarly pleasurably painful provides a way to both interpret and design industrial ruins. Furthermore, the subgenre of biological horror, which evokes the violation of natural laws, encapsulates the intricate interweaving of natural and cultural processes inherent to post-industrial sites. The experience of the industrial ruin landscape is simultaneously pleasure and pain, a contradictory hybrid of emotions that can be understood and appreciated through the lens of biological horror.

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