Politics, Ruin, and Digital Space


A compelling take on what’s known as “ruin photography” pictures of spaces and places that are degraded, abandoned, or ruined. By Sarah Wanenchak at Cyborgology.

One of the major criticisms of ruin photography – especially photography that focuses on the ruin of urban areas – is that it captures and decontextualizes visual fragments of complex social history and presents them as an aesthetic for the privileged to enjoy: the “porn” in “ruin porn”. This social history is a tangle of race and class – among many other things – and when we look at the ruins of inner city Detroit, we’re looking at the results of viciously racist development and real estate practices, and the utter breakdown (or the natural result) of contemporary capitalism.

But many of the people looking at these things don’t have to see that. We’re visual tourists. We – people like me – don’t live there. We have our pictures and then we go back to our lives.


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