Random Thoughts on Ruin Porn

Ruin porn is one of the more interesting “first-world” developments of recent years, at least in my humble opinion. For those unfamiliar with the concept, “urban exploration” involves visiting and photographing decaying areas, usually in cities.

You are God in the hell, you are Satan in the heaven.

There’s something hauntingly beautiful about many of these images, but at the same time, it feels extremely exploitative. Many of these most popular sites for urban exploration are in ruins because of ongoing economic crises (see “ruin porn” in Detroit. Lots and lots of Detroit.)

In the course of trying to clear out blog post drafts, I cam across many half-formed thoughts on this topic, as well as links to interesting examples. I figured I’d just try to distill everything down to one post here, even if it just means listing some of the links: Continue reading


Next Stop, Delta City: How Robocop Predicted the Future

Robocop movie poster, Copyright 1987, Orion Pictures [Fair use], via WikipediaPaul Verhoeven’s Robocop (1987) was a stupid, silly, implausible, satirical, strangely-brilliant, unsettlingly-prescient movie about a cyborg police officer created by a corporation angling to take over Detroit’s city government. What’s interesting is that part of that premise might be happening now. What’s disappointing is that it has nothing to do with cyborgs:

Detroit is a city in flux. There are bright spots — pockets of development, a vibrant art scene, sophisticated restaurants, and a growing number of community gardens — but signs of life are overshadowed by miles and miles of blight. Last May, the state turned Detroit’s public schools over to an emergency manager, a businessman named Roy Roberts with a long history in the auto industry and financial markets.


Could Detroit become the first major city in America to have all of its public services privatized? Signs are pointing in that direction. The question for those living on the precipice in the Metro Detroit area is whether to stay and turn things around or leave before they get worse.

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