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Über dieses Buch

This collection is the first book to comprehensively analyse the relatively new and under-researched phenomenon of ‘ruin porn’. Featuring a diverse collection of chapters, the authors in this work examine the relevance of contemporary ruin and its relationship to photography, media, architecture, culture, history, economics and politics. This work investigates the often ambiguous relationship that society has with contemporary ruins around the world, challenging the notions of authenticity that are frequently associated with images of decay. With case studies that discuss various places and topics, including Detroit, Chernobyl, Pitcairn Island, post-apocalyptic media, online communities and urban explorers, among many other topics, this collection illustrates the nuances of ruin porn that are fundamental to an understanding of humanity’s place in the overarching narrative of history.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction: Ruin Porn, Capitalism, and the Anthropocene

Abstract
This chapter introduces the topic of ruin porn, and the many issues and ambiguities that surround it; I discuss the fascination that society has with decay, and its place in cultural, historical, philosophical and economic discussions. As an aesthetic movement, ruin porn provokes much criticism as an exploitative notion that turns personal loss and decay into artistic work. But ruin porn is also a useful way in which to critique the relationship between humanity and its future. This chapter also examines the connections between ruin porn, capitalism, and the Anthropocene, arguing that the phenomenon of ruin porn potentially signals the demise of capitalism while challenging the anthropocentric discourse that defines contemporary academic discussions.
Siobhan Lyons

Erratum to: Ruin Porn and the Obsession with Decay

Without Abstract
Siobhan Lyons

American Ruin

Frontmatter

Chapter 2. Detroit Was Always Made of Wheels: Confronting Ruin Porn in Its Hometown

Abstract
Despite the fact that Detroit still retains a population of over 900,000 souls, the assumption that nobody actually lives in Detroit anymore obscures the difficult subject of what happens on the margins of a city. This research asks the question of what does happen when a city’s pain is aestheticized without a deeper engagement of the intersections of history, race, space and place. This essay will discuss Detroit’s public art projects and movements spanning the twentieth century from the City Beautiful movement to Diego Rivera’s murals to the Heidelberg Project. It will explore how Detroiters have been endowed with an innate sense of activism and social justice, countering the abstract magnificence of the famed ‘ruins of Detroit’ and offering a human perspective on abandonment.
Kate Wells

Chapter 3. Gods and Monsters: A Solastalgic Examination of Detroit’s Ruins and Representation

Abstract
This article appropriates philosopher Glenn Albrecht’s neologism solastalgia, originally coined to refer to the sensation of existential anguish during environmental crisis, to refer to the city of Detroit, the phenomenon of “ruin porn” and the effect this media has on its residents. Ruin porn creates a cyclical consciousness of trauma for residents as it continually perpetuates images of Detroit as a ruined wasteland incapable of self-governance or improvement beyond the assistance of the white, elite establishment. This paper will utilize Albrecht’s work in tandem with urban studies to explore how ruin porn affects Detroit residents and the representation of the city at large.
Christopher T. Gullen

Chapter 4. The Bronx Isn’t Burning, Is It?: Ruin Porn and Contemporary Perceptions of The Bronx

Abstract
The Bronx has a well-known and often-told history of crime, blight, and urban decay. National media has fixated on this period of the Bronx with Baz Luhrmann setting his recent Netflix show The Get Down against the backdrop of a burning Bronx to Anthony Bourdain filming his CNN show in the Bronx and obsessively focusing on the Bronx’s history. By looking to how these images of the Bronx shape our popular imagination of the borough, I make the larger argument that memories of place created by images of places we have never seen can challenge our notion of what it means to be urban in an increasingly pre-urban world. Such images can also offer us some consolation as the posthuman spaces evolve into prehuman landscapes once again.
Joseph Donica

Photographic Ruin

Frontmatter

Chapter 5. “Take Nothing But Photos, Leave Nothing But Footprints”: How-to Guides for Ruin Photography

Abstract
The UrbEx phenomenon has produced numerous websites and publications, both as guides for locating particularly enticing ruin sites, and as guides for how to have the kind of experience that explorers seek: namely, to be the first to encounter something not yet valued by others, and to produce a visual record of its ephemerality, while those who come after can only replicate the experience. Exploring the exploration guidebooks themselves offers a unique insight into “how to” have the desired sublime experience long associated with visiting ruins, particularly with reference to urban ruins photography. This chapter will explore the impulse towards routinising desired types of ruin photography and UrbEx adventures through an examination of “how to” UrbEx photography books and websites.
Susan A. Crane

Chapter 6. Where the (Moving) Sidewalk Ends: Images of Wasted Americana in the Pre-apocalyptic World

Abstract
Apocalyptic narratives focusing on urban wastelands have become ever-present in twenty first century media. Artists Stephen Crompton and Corey George capture images that evoke similar emotional tenor, drawing on the despair of a world where humanity’s impact on the landscape are in drawn-out states of death and reclamation by nature. While Crompton’s photo series The American Mall focuses on the slow decline of malls across America, George’s Alas, Babylon series details the casualties of the boom-and-bust cycles in the housing industry in Florida. Their photos bookend the same kinds of devastation seen in post-apocalyptic fiction, but also show America in a state of pre-apocalyptic decay. This chapter argues how the work of Crompton and George offers an additional intervention in understanding the widespread appeal of apocalyptic narratives.
Amanda Firestone, Stephen Crompton, Corey George

Chapter 7. Picturing Ruin in the American Rustbelt: Andrew Borowiec’s Cleveland: The Flats, the Mill, and the Hills

Abstract
Contemporary postindustrial ruin photography is a photographic genre with historical depth, cultural significance, and aesthetic variety. Postindustrial ruin photographs not only repurpose abandoned places with new symbolic meanings, but also situate forgotten places in a discourse about the cultural meaning of the deindustrialization period. In this chapter, I focus on the city of Cleveland and Andrew Borowiec’s photographic collection Cleveland: The Flats, the Mill, and the Hills (2008) in order to discuss the cultural meaning and symbolism of postindustrial ruins. Borowiec’s photographs subvert the aestheticism that ruin porn critique has expressed (i.e. that ruin photography is merely sensational and exploitative) and help to outline the historic depth of industrial photography, offering a counter-narrative to nostalgic representations of the industrial past.
Susann Köhler

Alternative Ruinscapes

Frontmatter

Chapter 8. Diachronic Fetishisation: Ruin Porn and Pitcairn Island Language, Archaeology, and Architecture

Abstract
Pitcairn Island, South Pacific is a remote 5 km2 island known the world over for its famed connection to the Mutiny on the Bounty and its resultant mixed Anglo-Polynesian language and culture. Although captivated observers remain perpetually fascinated by the history and plight of the 50-odd population of Bounty descendants still resident on this faraway British outpost, there exists scant documentation of several pertinent cultural elements of this exemplary society for the study of isolation, linguistic change, and architectural and language-based ruining. As the Pitcairn Island language—Pitcairn—crumbles and fights against the tides of purported modernity and necessary innovation, so, too, do many archaeological artefacts and traditional architectural techniques. Here, one observes the aesthetics of ruin and demise in two old houses, which are steeped in earlier building traditions, in parallel with change, progress, and development–devolution in other spheres of culture like language. The ruining of language and the rusting of the former architecture on Pitcairn Island are but two associated traditional bedfellows, which offer insight into a broader imaginary of corrosion. Using the recent account of a dilapidated house being mistaken for a junkyard by a visitor during fieldwork in 2016, this chapter makes claims relating language, architectural, and archaeological collapse. The worded and built ruining on Pitcairn Island sees the death of a language, the likely dying out of a people, and the tarnished ness of tangible and intangible lost artefacts as being diachronically steeped. It is argued that this aesthetic of expiry and collapse on and of Pitcairn Island is an ideal case study in identifying alternate ruinscapes, observing ruin architecture, and addressing the isolation of ruining. An argument is advanced which considers how architectural documentation renders the cultural documenter a ruin photographer of architectural decay, just as the linguist writes and records (of–about) the disappearance of concomitant spoken tropes.
Joshua Nash, Martin Gibbs

Chapter 9. No Vacancy: History and Meaning of Contemporary Ruins in a Regional Australian City

Abstract
This study seeks to determine the value and use of contemporary ruins in the centre of Gosford, a regional city of New South Wales, Australia, where aspirations to progress are offset by stories and physical traces of abandonment and decay produced as a consequence of urban decline. In Gosford, local public sentiment typically positions decay as hindrance to progress, and representative of broader perceptions of the city’s stagnation. Yet these dilapidated structures are spaces of unconventional and transient historical significance. The condemned buildings occupy an uneasy space between commercial or civic functions, and rejuvenation or demolition, and are frequented by urban explorers, street artists and the city’s youth. This study will form the groundwork for an interactive audio geography tour in the public sphere.
Nancy Cushing, Michael Kilmister, Nathan Scott

Virtual and Mediated Ruin

Frontmatter

Chapter 10. Immersive Ruin: Chernobyl and Virtual Decay

Abstract
This chapter analyses ruin porn from the perspective of the Internet, and specifically virtual online experiences. Not least where sexual pornography is so heavily associated with its experience via the Internet, as opposed to an act that occurs in ‘real’ life or even via static photographic representations, this chapter explores how ruin porn is accessed and experienced online. Online ruin porn is analysed here within the theoretical framework of virtual dark tourism. In analysing this online aspect of ruin porn, this chapter looks specifically at the case study of Chernobyl, and also assesses the limitations of online experiences, not only in terms of dark tourism more widely but also museum engagement with online and enhanced virtuality experiences as a method of measurement.
Michelle Bentley

Chapter 11. More Than Ruins: (Post-)Apocalyptic Places in Media

Abstract
In the last 15 years there has been a multitude of post-apocalyptic films projecting the long term implications of an apocalyptic disaster. The design and use of settings of landscapes, settlements, and waters freed of human beings are remarkably similar in choice and style: vast wastelands, ruins of landmarks, and overgrown cities reminding of the once enormous impact of humanity on earth while simultaneously stressing its perishability and nature’s ‘revenge’. In this chapter, I discuss the aesthetics and (narrative) functions of land- and urbanscapes in post-apocalyptic media, investigate tendencies in their composition overlapping individual productions and media (also including web series, documentaries, and reality TV shows), and thus demonstrate the creation, nature, effects, and functions of post-apocalyptic ruins, wastelands, and other settings across media.
Felix Kirschbacher

Chapter 12. “This Is Not Ruin Tourism”: Social Media and the Quest for Authenticity in Urban Exploration

Abstract
Industrial ruins, abandoned places and landscapes of urban decay have to an increasing extent come to surface in popular representations of towns and cities. Their appearances are widely circulated also through various social media platforms and online networks. Together, these “cultures of circulation” weave an increasingly complex imaginary texture of the recent past. In this chapter, I explore the cultural tensions between the rough, but no less phantasmagorical, materiality of decaying urban areas and the increasingly ephemeral cultures of online circulation. Exploring such a field, I argue, is a good way of grasping the different ways in which people imagine, mediate and relate to the half-forgotten remnants of the modern past, as well as a starting point for mapping the contested landscapes of the spreadable city.
André Jansson

Backmatter

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