Cities of wrecked desire : post-apocalyptic cinema and ruin pornography
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Citation:Wilson, S. (2017, January). Cities of Wrecked Desire: Post-Apocalyptic Cinema and Ruin Pornography. Ernesto Taborda-Hernández (Ed.), ACTAS ICONO14 – V Congresso Internacional Cidades Criativas (pp.514-523)
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/3890
Ruin pornography – the photographic aestheticization of architectural decay – has a long history in cinema and television and is linked to spectacles of apocalypse and its aftermath. More recently, these representational tropes have become a photographic genre in their own right, highlighting and, perhaps, celebrating urban and industrial decay. While not necessarily emerging from the same apocalyptic events as their fictional counterparts, the fact that similar kinds of formal representational characteristics are repeated between fiction and non-fiction means that those non-fiction, documentary images are interpreted in the same ways as those of the cities of films such as Oblivion (Joseph Kosinski, 2013), After Earth (M. Night Shyamalan, 2013) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves, 2014) (amongst many others). As a consequence, it has been claimed that: ... ruin photography and ruin film aestheticizes poverty without inquiring of its origins, dramatizes spaces but never seeks out the people that inhabit and transform them, and romanticizes isolated acts of resistance without acknowledging the massive political and social forces aligned against the real transformation, and not just stubborn survival, of the city (Leary, 2013). This paper will explore the aesthetics of both ruin pornography and post-apocalyptic cinema and television in order to assess the manner in which this form of documentary reportage might or might not succeed in drawing attention to the causes and conditions of urban decay, economic collapse, and the possibility for positive urban and civil reconstruction and outcomes.