Cyber-Ghosts of Otautahi

Where the heck am I?!” – that’s what I was asking myself a couple of days ago.

Imagine if you like,.. a past inhabitant of Pompeii* was to visit the present day ruins.  What would they think of the changes over time?, and would they recognise the familiar past buildings, – would their memories of their past familiar places encapsulate the skeletal remains –  like a silk spun ethereal memorial to the past – rendering them recognisable?…or would the ancient ruins be far too incongruent with their past form?

Pompeii – September 2004

I think I might know how they would feel.  Disorientated. The familiar transformed into unfamiliar.  I might as well have been looking at Pompeii, or at castle ruins in Scotland.

The difference is, – I can stand amongst the ruins of the centre of Christchurch, – the familiarity stripped away by the earthquakes – and stand with my smartphone with GPS tracking, with the ghosts of the buildings that once were there immortalised on googlemaps.

That is all that was left of one particular block in the city.  I did not recognise the building.  I could not even remember that there had been a tattoo studio in that part of town.  I was totally disorientated, – unsure whether I really was where I assumed I was, until I looked at googlemaps.  In the images of the past, it looked familiar, recognised,.. but with the surrounding buildings stripped away, it was unrecognisable.

So what did it look like before the earthquakes?see just below…

That past view (above) is taken from a different vantage point, … so here’s what it looks like now from a more similar vantage point…

July 2012 -  High street/Madras Street intersection

July 2012 – High street/Madras Street intersection

One unusual serendipitous aspect of the destruction is finding layers of the past that had been hidden over time.   In the city that existed three years ago, city blocks looked to be composed of continuous eclectic constructions, that had been formed in the past by series of individual buildings being built crammed against each other so they looked like a giant organism of construction.  The earthquake broke these clusters apart , some buildings remained, and the ruins of others were cleared away in the months since the February 2011 earthquake.  Slogans painted on individual building were exposed, revealing archaeological layers of the short history of central Christchurch.

Christchurch, July 2012

Christchurch, July 2012

*umm,.. so how is a 2000 year old citizen of Pompeii able to see how Pompeii looks today?,.. er.. Alien abduction perchance?,.. time travel?,.. ok…  Let’s just pretend Evelina stayed with Dr Who   and Donna for a while before rejoining  with her family in 79AD Rome…. 😉


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