Thursday, April 10, 2014

Apocalyptic Landscapes and Ruin Porn

2 Words:

Ruin porn.

That is all you must know in order to understand what I will be talking about for my upcoming blog posts.  But what is ruin porn you may ask?

Well, it's simple really.  It's ruins, and I mean ruins in terms of buildings, landscapes, vacant lots, and areas of land that are so destroyed, beat, and run down that they are almost beautiful in a sense.  And because they are these 'beautiful' ruins, they gives us this weird sense of satisfaction and gratification that heighten our senses and make us feel alive.  Thus, I give you ruin porn.

I didn't deem the word ruin porn, even though I wish I had because it's sort of genius in a way.  I first heard about this term after being assigned to read the article Ruin Porn: As Dirty As You Need it To Be by Richey Piiparinen for one of my environmental studies classes.  After reading this article, I too, started to notice the trend of journalists taking photos of these run down and abandoned spaces in order to create this grand fascination about them.  Was it laziness?  No, I don't think so.  Even though the article did say that journalists are being criticized for producing these stories on ruin porn.  2 main critiques that the article talked about were the fact that pretty much all of these ruin porn shots had no people in them and that they exploited these cities and people in distress.

Was this their intention?  Not necessarily because I think that what these journalists have been trying to say is that these spaces are fascinating because they mean something greater to us.  They are still a representation of a part of our society and reflect how our systems work, how we have progressed, and what has happened as a result of this progression.  They reflect a part of our history, and I think they need it be seen not as separate entities, but as spaces that we live with and are essential to understanding human patterns and behavior.

For instance, whenever I tell my Mom about a certain environmental documentary or a place that I want to travel to that might show or have a great amount of sadness, poverty, or corruption in it, she immediately turns the other way and says she can't hear about it because it's too sad.  But I try to explain to her that even though these are sad truths, they are our realities, and we can't just ignore them in hopes that they will get better.  It's necessary that we see and understand these things because no matter how privileged we are, we are still connected to these issues.

They matter to us.

Instead of exemplifying these issues and ruined landscapes as some sort of art, there needs to be more of a focus on the conversation around these abandoned spaces and the issues that come along with them.  Discussion is of utmost importance when trying to understand things we can't immediately grasp, but play an important role in the creation and progression of society and humanity.

Detroit is a perfect example of a city that is photographed daily for its vacant spaces and thus highlights the amount of crime that occurs there, how much poverty there is in the city, and so on.  Flint, Michigan is also another site that seems to be dealing with the same issues as Detroit, but at a more rapid decline.

The thing is though, these apocalyptic, barren, and abandoned landscapes that we have created and left to rot are the evidence that we need to show that the apocalypse is happening right before our eyes.  Everything from vacant buildings, to unoccupied roads, rotting wood, trash and other objects piling up in these spaces are just what we need to motivate us to revitalize and re-create these spaces to be the thriving areas that they once were and to help the communities that once flourished there.  Now I'm not saying this is a simple task because there is policy involved, people of different backgrounds, social injustice, and poor economy in these cities, but I believe that they are worth fighting for.

For my project that I'm doing for my Digital Media Prouction class, I wanted to visit some potential sites that are prime examples of the apocalyptic world we are living in today.  Here are some places I'm considering so if anyone has recommendations about where to go, I'd greatly appreciate it!  I'll probably choose 2-3 locations depending on how much material I can gather, but I really want to focus in on these few areas and portray them through the beautiful emptiness that they exhibit.

Here are some places I'm considering to shoot at:

1) Treasure Island

2) Railroad tracks

3) Nike Missile Launch Center

4) Abandoned military sites/hospitals

5) Pier 70

Also, here are 2 great blogs that I have gotten some wonderful inspiration from and that have beautiful shots of abandoned landscapes in both the Bay Area and the greater U.S.

Lastly, here are 2 fantastic articles that were written about ruin porn, in which they talk about what it is, why people are talking about it, and cities that have a great amount of ruin porn to them:

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