Kenopsia is a term that was coined by John Koenig in his book The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. It refers to the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people, but is now deserted and abandoned. It is the feeling of emptiness and desolation that comes from seeing a place that is no longer alive with the energy of its inhabitants.
Without knowing the term, I have a strong memory from my youth of such a scene. I was on a school trip in London and we stayed in a hotel that was built directly above Paddington station. The hotel entrance was situated in such a way that you couldn't feel anything of the station.
Curious as I was, I walked around alone in the magnificent hotel lobby in the evening. Past marble columns, down a staircase. And then I opened an inconspicuous door. I mistook it for a back exit.
Suddenly I was standing in on the platform at Paddington Station. It was so surreal and incredibly fascinating. Unconsciously, I was experiencing a transition space like that. This is a stylistic technique that is often used in movies to immerse oneself in another world.
At the same time, lonely places where we expect a lot of life exert a fascination on people like me. For example, a busy intersection on a Sunday morning with no cars at all. I'm not the type for lost places. That's a touch too creepy for me. But epic places with no people, maybe an empty nightclub, as an example, are incredibly fascinating to me.
As a teenager, I didn't realize that other people also had a fascination with places like this, but now I know that the feeling even has a name: Kenopsia. And you might have experienced the feeling yourself when viewing title images that I photograph for my blog articles.