Kenopsia is defined as the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people, but is now abandoned and quiet. Beau Raines takes his camera to these forgotten areas of the city to capture the emotional after image that makes it seem not just empty, but hyper-empty. Peeling paint, broken windows, worn graffiti, and rusted steel are revived through the lens of Raines’ camera. Being an introvert himself, he finds peace within the carcasses of old warehouses and empty streets.
“I gravitate towards parts of the city that people aren’t moving through. Nobody is going to see me and nobody knows I’m there. I see what other people would never normally see.”
His love of exploring began when he was in middle school, before the age of cell phones and social media. Raines would take his mother’s camera and sneak out to wander aimlessly. He would find the tallest thing he could climb on and scale it to take photos. When he moved away to college in Bristol, Tennessee, he found himself completely on his own for the first time. Raines made a habit of driving up to Main Street, parking his car, and walking out of the city for miles on end, all the while capturing images of deserted factories and warehouses.
As life went on and Raines moved from city to city, the series developed into a sort of meditation. It was a way for him to break away from the monotony of everyday life and the anxiety of social norms. Setting out with no destination and spending hours letting the environment reach out to him allowed Raines to explore his physical surroundings as well as his inner consciousness.
The exhilaration of the unknown, where he can’t rely on expectation, releases him from his own self-doubt. The stillness of uninhabited spaces envelops his senses and allows him to be completely uninhibited.
“The process itself creates a familiar place. It metaphorically exists no matter what space I’m actually in.”
Not everyone has the heart and mind of an explorer. Raines finds ways to get in and out of places that are not meant to be traversed. He finds the most spectacular (and oftentimes the most dangerous) vantage points to take his photos. He’s fallen through floors, snuck through working hotels, pried open sealed doors, and had his fair share of run-ins with the law, but he always manages to find the grace behind the sorrow of abandonment.
“The goal is to find the place that exists outside of the reality of what you’re exploring, giving you an opportunity to tangibly experience your own mental space.”
Currently based in Dallas, Raines continues to run his production company, VoiceOneArts, documenting artists and independents of all trades. He is a visual storyteller for many, but the Kenopsia series is his most personal project. It’s thrilling and cathartic and singularly his.