The world is full of sad places, as Instagrammer Damien Rudd shows us. The Australian artist runs Sad Topographies, an Instagram account that catalogs Google Maps screenshots of melancholily-named geographical locations. On the site with the tagline ‘Somewhere to go, when you’re feeling low’, you will find a ‘Despair Island’, ‘Lonely Street’ and ‘Shades of Death Road’. “What's interesting is that the places themselves are never really sad. Slaughter Beach is supposedly beautiful, the Sorrow Islands are picturesque,” Rudd, 31, tells Metro of his surprisingly viral site.
Q: What inspired you to create Sad Topographies?
– I was doing research on Edward Eyre, a 19th century English explorer who charted Australia. He was looking for an inland sea in the center of Australia, and on this journey he climbed a mountain and looked out over a vast, inhospitable landscape. He decided to name it ‘Mount Hopeless’, presumably as a reflection of his feelings at that moment. I wanted to find more places like that.
Q: Some of these place-names are really forlorn. Do you make them up?
– No, all the places are completely real, and I provide the location with the images for anyone who wishes to find it. I simply type words such as ‘sad’, ‘misery’ or ‘lonely’ into my maps app and see what comes up. Later I got many suggestions from people for places such as ‘Shades of Death Road’, ‘End of the World’, etc.
Q: What are the saddest places you’ve ever found?
– What's interesting is that the places themselves are never really sad – at least today. Slaughter Beach is supposedly beautiful, the Sorrow Islands are picturesque [in Delaware, United States, and British Columbia, Canada, respectively – Ed.]. Very often these places were named by early explorers or settlers who found, witnessed or were involved in some tragic event. The names acted as historical markers; however, many of the stories behind the names have since been forgotten. The names I like the best would have to be ‘Uncertain’, ‘Heartache Road’, and ‘Disappointment Island’. Less dramatic than ‘Killer Lake’, but they seem to imply a kind of underlying prose narrative.
Q: Have you been to any of those sad places?
– I did drive past Nowhere Else in Australia once. My next holiday adventure will likely include a few sad places.
Q: Your Instagram account has tens of thousands of followers. Why do you think people are interested in these places?
– I believe it has to do with the bleak humor of the names, and the possibility that they could actually exists. They remind us that the world is still strange and mysterious.
Q: What’s the future of your project?
– There has been some discussion about publishing a book. I still have plenty more depressing places to post in the meantime though.
See more: https://instagram.com/sadtopographies/