End of Year Reflection

… while the topics associated with infrastructure were plentiful this year, one of them sticks-out and consistently lingers in my mind’s eye. It is a topic implied in what I saw again just today while scrolling through my facebook and twitter feed.

It is called a number of things, although, apparently, “ruin porn” is term that has come to encapsulate the phenomenon. For example, I saw it today: an abandoned Wizard of Oz theme park that “will haunt you.”

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Now, “ruin porn” is not exactly a p.c. term; however, even the New York Times is using it. For example, “‘Ruin Porn’ — the Aftermath of the Beijing Olympics” (although, I will grant that the author put the term in scare quotes in the title, that, or the editor did).

I have blogged with/or about these topics numerous times, often without much reflection on the issues, ogling these derelict structures along with everyone else: abandoned places, emphasis on collapse, and decay, but elsewhere too (we even have a tag for “decay“).

There are folks saying we need to get beyond this and are trying to make sense of the pornographic nature (although that always struck me as an overstatement or way to garner media attention to the concept/issue).

That said, the topic gains attention constantly. Even conferences now are organized around it.

As I continue to ponder this, I am wondering what role this plays in actually solving some of our serious infrastructure concerns … 

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8 thoughts on “End of Year Reflection

  1. the term seems too broadly applied, there are some images (often of malls) where I might take pleasure in the abandonment/destruction, but with most of the factories and all I just find them to be aesthetically pleasing as they are and not in reference to what they were. As for our infrastructure woes I don’t think they will serve any therapeutic value so the only strong relationship I can see is that there will be ever more examples to share. As for the conferences and all we should devise some kind of Rorschach rubric tho it might be much easier a task to interpret as I imagine people will just come out with the same old theories/conclusions they went in with, let me know if someone’s mind is actually changed/inspired by their dwelling with/in the ruins.

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    • That is a nice statement associated with postmodernity: “the term seems too broadly applied, there are some images (often of malls) where I might take pleasure in the abandonment/destruction, but with most of the factories and all I just find them to be aesthetically pleasing as they are and not in reference to what they were”

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    • I’d also say that your closing remark is worth investigating (i.e., “let me know if someone’s mind is actually changed/inspired by their dwelling with/in the ruins”). I mean, surely, some of this enjoyment of ruins has a lot to do with mass availability of drones to capture the sheer scale of it all. Some of it just goes to show how much wasted infrastructure exists out there too. It is in the reveling in it that I am curious about. Does this really make somebody appreciate the scale of the issues OR is this just the visual equivalent of acid-washed jeans put to infrastructure?

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      • one of the concerns about good old porno porno is that the images/media replace the need for encounters/relations with actual people (or that one might use other bodies to masturbate to the images now occupying one’s mind), might be something of that here not so much as replacement per say but that the images appeal without any relation to the sites themselves (seems to be likewise a growing fetishizing of maps which of course now come with photos), like travel photos which often become more important than experiencing the sites/environs that they are taken in (including that they become backdrops/occasions for selfies).
        just found: http://sociologicalimagination.org/archives/18510

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