Contemporary urban environments offer a wealth of rich social and cultural narratives for analysis. Cities lend themselves to media practices of photography and film, providing aesthetic representations of contemporary urban life. The city is not only a geographic place, it is a dynamic social and cultural organism influenced by an ongoing process of growth and decay. This flux is often represented by media which focus on the urban environment—notably its infrastructures or lack thereof—as an indicator of the conditions of a city. The urban as represented by contemporary ruin photography and film is often cited for its aesthetic quality or for the narratives these media provide to their audience. Yet the visual culture of ruin inevitably overlooks—or inaccurately represents—the dynamic complexity of contemporary cities and the experiences of its citizens, as urban explorers employ architecture and infrastructure as their primary subjects.
This paper seeks to explore questions of aestheticizing and historicizing the shifting nature of contemporary cities as they are represented through media which employs Detroit Michigan as the subject of photography and film commonly referred to as “ruin-porn.” Images of crumbling buildings and desolate urban space being reclaimed by nature provide a stark contrast to historical images of the booming hub of American manufacturing—once a model for future cities. The places and structures that once signalled socioeconomic prosperity and urban growth now become the subject of media which seem to indicate the decay and death of a contemporary city. While these images provide a compelling allure to observers outside Detroit, considering them as purely artistic representation risks overlooking the true causes of Detroit’s widespread urban decay, and risks reinforcing a cultural narrative of loss and despair about the city through overrepresentation of urban ruins. Detroit is not unique in terms of the social and economic forces which drive its growth and regression; however, the scale on which Detroit experienced industrialization and subsequent deindustrialization is perhaps more drastic than other comparative cities. As representation through film and photography occurs in large part from the perspective of outsiders looking in, Detroit becomes fetishized as a city which seems to no longer exist, evident by its ruination.
While the dichotomy of growth and decay can be applied to most cities, Detroit lends itself to these discussions because of its widespread and continuing urban change, which has attracted many photographers and filmmakers. Ruin-porn does more than provide a means of artistic expression, it also implicates the lived experience of a city and the people who comprise them, and can also function as an historical record of places and objects that signify past events or failures. The widespread creation of ruin-porn based in Detroit often overlooks the cause and effect relationship between socioeconomic inequality and urban decay in the interests of aesthetics and art, but it does function as an archival media exemplifying the consequences of industry and social inequality as they are captured and recorded. These media contribute to a record of urban decay and change in contemporary cities. Questions of the value and meaning given to urban ruins and infrastructural decay become increasingly paramount to consider in the case of Detroit because it continues to be a functioning city. While historical relics of a past civilization may be considered culturally valuable and therefore worth protecting, much of Detroit’s ruination is considered little more than blight and its cultural valuation differs as a result. Exploring the treatment and consideration of ruins in Detroit as they pertain to media production and ruin-porn uncovers more than economic inequalities. The cultural value and affective power of urban ruins varies throughout Detroit, and raises important questions of how to manage the contemporary landscape; it also varies by the positionality of producer and consumer. What decay is considered worth maintaining and what is considered disposable in the interests of revitalization? What do these urban ruins signify for the producers and consumers of ruin-porn, and how does this differ between citizens and outside observers? While ruin-porn does carry with it an aesthetic and cultural impression that itself is worth recognizing, it also signifies the rise and fall of Fordism, and the consequences and class divisions of contemporary capitalism as they unfold in a contemporary North American city.
The Breakdown of the Motor City
Ruin-porn focusing on Detroit often supports the idea that industrialization and urban decay are integrally linked. Defunct factories and the now abandoned neighbourhoods that once supported them form a large part of these media. As Arnold points out in her work, “Detroit has come to symbolize the social and environmental consequences of industrial and urban decline in North America […] The same objects that once indicated progress, now point to decline.”1Arnold, Sarah. 2015. “Urban Decay Photography and Film: Fetishism and the Apocalyptic Imagination.” Journal of Urban History (SAGE Publications) 41 (2): 335. Photography collections like Marchand and Meffre’s The Ruins of Detroit (2010) exemplify the dramatic transformation of the city’s contemporary urban landscape with tremendous aesthetic appeal. While the creators state that much of Detroit’s ruins have transcended their role as urban artifact and now function as seemingly natural elements of Detroit’s landscape, this claim disregards the unnatural reality of these ruins. The urban change experienced in Detroit has not occurred from one historical moment, nor has it occurred over a short period. It is also crucial to consider that the decay has not occurred equally across the city in terms of geography, status or class. Research by John F. McDonald provides a timeline of contemporary social and economic influence in Detroit exemplifying the unequal and industry-centric growth which contributes to the contemporary urban environment and spatial arrangement of the city. His research cites three key determinants which place Detroit in a unique category when compared to other urban areas in the Northeast: “the heavy concentration in the auto industry […], importation of vast numbers of black and white southerners to work in industry, and the fragmented political structure that permits whites to escape the problems in the central city.”2McDonald, John F. 2014. “What happened to and in Detroit?” Urban Studies (SAGE Publications) 51 (16): 3310. The most recent decade of this research provides a strong foundation to consider the relationship between deindustrialisation and decay, as well as the relationship between social inequalities, racialization and contemporary treatment of urban ruins. The loss of manufacturing jobs is not unique to Detroit, but the city’s centralized industrial base put them at higher risk of economic uncertainty post-recession, and Detroit was arguably harder hit than similar cities.3Ibid., 3324-5. Promises of the global economy to provide an ever-cheaper workforce provided the incentive for industry to make their exit from Detroit; this exodus provided the necessary conditions for widespread urban decay to occur in the city, which has since attracted many producers to capture the urban conditions of contemporary Detroit. The creation of media which place Detroit as the epicenter of contemporary North American urban decay often fail to provide context to the complexity of this phenomena, focusing instead on urban ruins as art while failing to consider the cause and effect relationship between broader issues which have contributed to this decay, what these ruins signify in terms of social and cultural importance, or how they implicate the lived experience of Detroit’s residents.
The citizens of Detroit face the consequences of decisions made well beyond their own control. This is true when considering those made by city planners and local government, but also with respect to “The Big Three” who similarly influenced the development of the city as an automotive hub, contributing to its massive expansion and urban growth. While the creation of jobs that come alongside industrialization are in some ways a social positive, automakers relied upon minority and lower-class workers to support their factories which maintained class subordination between those who benefited from industry and the individuals who supported it. As automakers embraced the global economy they left behind a small upper class with no employment and no reason to stay in Detroit, and a much larger highly marginalized lower class with no economic base and few opportunities for stratification or relocation. As Steinmetz states, “just as the rise of Fordism created twentieth-century Detroit, the demise of Fordism has been responsible for Detroit’s extreme impoverishment and for peculiarities of its ruination.”4Steinmetz, George. “Harrowed Landscapes: white ruingazers in Namibia and Detroit and the cultivation of memory.” Visual Studies 23.3 (2008): 229. The problems faced by contemporary Detroit are, in large part, tied to the rapid population growth needed for mass production factory jobs and the coinciding loss of these jobs in the face of recession and increasing reliance upon global manufacturing, but they are also the product of racialization and class inequality.5McDonald, “What happened to and in Detroit?”, 3320. As the city undergoes a process of decay alongside processes of restoration and reimagination, we once again see evidence of racial and class divisions. Residents who remain in Detroit suffer the consequences of a post-Fordism Detroit, while ruin-porn creators reinforce narratives of decay and ruination through their works.
Consequences of Detroit’s Urban Decay
As we can see from Marchand and Meffre’s The Ruins of Detroit, the number of abandoned, condemned, or otherwise decayed properties in Detroit results in an overwhelming number of striking images— they disproportionately portray the city as dead. Photos of industrial spaces like the Fisher Plant and Packard Plant not only show the level of decay that has occurred, but the enormous size of these industrial areas that now sit abandoned and in varying states of ruin. Similarly, photos of the Rich-Dex apartments or Jane Cooper Elementary School invoke the true scale of urban decay and abandonment in terms of the toll taken on individuals and community beyond a loss of industry and economic stability. These spaces are often experiencing different types of decay, one that occurs naturally over time, and one that occurs because of vandalism, theft, and other human intervention. Considering the social inequalities that produce differing levels of urban decay in different parts of the city leads to important questions of how ruins are treated, and what value—if any—is placed upon them. Is crumbling architecture in Detroit considered valuable and worth saving, or does it amount to little more than blight? More importantly, what are the opinions and experiences of Detroit’s residents who continue to live amongst this decaying landscape? While urban ruins provide subjects for artistic creation and consumption, outside of this mediated perspective they influence the lived experience of Detroit’s residents. As Detroit’s landscape becomes further changed by decay and demolition, the city faces an increasing number of social detriments that both contribute to, and result from, urban ruination.
As one of the largest metropolitan areas in North America, the city limits of Detroit cover a large geographic area. As buildings and businesses are razed, neighborhoods are left entirely vacant, resulting in what are considered “urban meadows.”6Fein, Zach. 2006-2012. The Abandoned City of Detroit. http://zfein.com/photography/detroit/air_dead/index.html. Zach Fein’s The Abandoned City of Detroit (2006-2012) includes a collection of these urban meadows, providing images which are eerily apocalyptic. They not only exemplify the decay of the urban environment, they signify a tremendous loss of population and the complications of urban decay for residents who continue to live in the city. These large rural spaces within an urban environment interfere with our ideals of a city. Furthermore, they present daily challenges as neighbourhoods are sectored and broken up, leaving pockets of inhabited areas surrounded by a random network of rural property. Not only does this spatially divide and distance many residents from necessary services such as transit, streetlights and emergency services, but it also exemplifies the continuation of inequalities of race and class. Areas of the city that have seen some level of restoration—notably the downtown core—stand in stark contrast to outlying areas inhabited by lower income and minority populations.
Valuation & Treatment of Ruins
The work of Gaston Gordillo provides a unique perspective on the treatment and value placed upon ruins. His work points to a cultural distinction made between objects and landscapes that could be considered “ruins,” and those that are considered “rubble.” While this distinction presents two obvious categories his assessment of how value is placed upon these sites, by whom, and the treatment of these spaces is more important to consider than categorization. Gordillo states that distinguishing ruins and rubble will “help us understand the ruptured multiplicity that is constitutive of all geographies as they are produced, destroyed, and remade…”7Gordillo, Gaston. 2014. Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction. Duke University Press: 2. It is certainly arguable that much of Detroit’s urban decay could be considered rubble due to its lack of maintenance and general protection. But if we consider these spaces ruins, they become the spaces and objects that signify a past civilization. This presents an even more interesting consideration between Detroit’s structural ruins, and the vacant remains of neighbourhoods that result in urban meadows. What value is placed upon these different sites? Judging by the speed of residential razing in comparison to industrial sites, a clear inequality once again presents itself through these media. Creators who focus on urban ruins play a key role in recording these differences; their works provide an archive of geography and urbanism as much as they do an archive of social and structural inequalities as they are evidenced by urban growth or decay. While the creation of ruin-porn undoubtedly serves to reinforce certain cultural narratives, it is also part of a broader cultural archive. The distinction made by Gordillo is not based on what the object is, but rather who the object has meaning to in relation to a broader cultural ideology or social hierarchy. When we consider Detroit’s ruin-porn, there is an obvious and clear difference between the current state of buildings owned by industry and government, and those once owned by private individuals. Gordillo’s distinction between cultural valuation of ruins and rubble provides an incentive to question how affective these spaces are to those still living in Detroit. What do urban ruins signify for the local population, and more importantly, how do divisions of class and race implicate the treatment of these spaces?
George Steinmetz presents a comparative analysis of ruingazers in Detroit and Namibia, addressing the predominantly White narratives which result from ruin-gazing and media production. As his work points to, the context of ruination is crucial to providing any accuracy to the narratives of contemporary cities, and to the ruins themselves, or the social order they represent through media production. He states, “the comparison between a post-colonial African country and post-industrial North American city is intended to compare and contrast the emotional posture of previously dominant white groups and the symbolic role that ruins come to play for them.”8Steinmetz, George. “Harrowed Landscapes: white ruingazers in Namibia and Detroit and the cultivation of memory.” Visual Studies 23.3 (2008): 221. Steinmetz provides a perspective on this history as being fueled by majority White individuals and industry, who, at one time or another, largely represented the city in social or political discourse. The treatment of urban ruins in Detroit is not unlike the treatment of ruins in any other time or place and the meaning and attachment placed upon these objects and spaces differ by race and class. This racialization plays a key role in Detroit’s eventual decline and in the response of local governments and individuals to urban decay. Redevelopment, restoration or razing of urban environments considered marred by ruins, decisions largely in the hands of local governments and industry, lead to new questions of gentrification, racialization, and perpetuation of inequalities. Media which focuses on Detroit’s ruination provide strong examples of the differing treatment of urban ruins in Detroit as they relate not only to geography, but also race and class.
Photography & The Apocalyptic Imagination
As buildings and infrastructure become the primary focus for the creators of ruin-porn, we risk overlooking important social questions regarding the creation and ruination of these spaces. The relationship between individuals and place so important to cultural experience or the cause and effect relationship between socioeconomic conditions and urbanism often goes unnoticed. As Frederic Jameson states, “the supreme raw materials of the work of art becomes limited to a tiny corner of the social world, a fixed camera view of a certain section…”9Jameson, Frederic. 1988. “Cognitive Mapping.” Eds. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg. Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. U. of Illinois: 348. While Jameson is speaking of London, the production and consumption of ruin-porn employing Detroit as its subject provide an overwhelmingly fixed-view of a dynamic city. This sentiment is picked up by Arnold, who in following the insights of Barthes (1981) and Sontag (1977) argues that photography produces a static image which can only represent a static narrative, a certain moment in time inscribed and historicized through aesthetics and representation.10Arnold, Sarah. “Urban Decay Photography and Film: Fetishism and the Apocalyptic Imagination.” Journal of Urban History 41.2 (2015): 329. As many scholars point out Detroit is not an apocalyptic site, nor is it a place which experienced a sudden abrupt event of urban destruction but it is often represented as such. The entirety of the city’s narratives and the basis of such widespread urban decay cannot be accurately depicted through static images because the photograph records diverse temporalities and flattens them into a single image—it covers over their complex histories and presents them as occurring all at once. The city of Detroit neither develops nor decays in an instant, as the photograph might suggest.
Attempts at aestheticizing the urban through photography often produce images that may align to Arnold’s notion of “the apocalyptic imagination”: “The apocalyptic imagination is concerned with aestheticizing and romanticizing the impression of disaster and sudden ruination…Obsolete and disused objects become fetishized and instilled with a tragic beauty.”11Ibid., 334. Urban ruins signify changing social conditions, whether it be a loss of economic prosperity, an abrupt end to a thriving social environment, or the death of entire urbanized communities. On the other hand, the functional, mechanical and digital elements of contemporary photography allow for images and narratives that exist far beyond a traditional photo, as “techniques such as HDR enhance the atmosphere of ruination.”12Ibid., 335. This technological mediation often produces an image which is beyond the actual experience of physically existing in these spaces. While the ruins may appear in spectacular fashion due to technological advancement, they also suggest that urban decay should be open to photographers or filmmakers as something unwanted by others, ready to be captured, historicized, and grounded. The fantastic nature of these images serves to distance viewers of contemporary urban ruins from the experience of existing amongst them. The pseudo-apocalyptic images that exist in urban ruin photography collections provide content which is powerful, yet has little context beyond decay. Ruin-porn photography is generally unable to encapsulate the entirety of the narrative, and often disregards any sort of existing society in its representation. The capture of urban ruins in Detroit does little to inform those outside the city to the realities of everyday life within, but it does play a role in terms of reinforcing a narrative of decay, despair, and an abrupt end to a once-thriving urban community.
Detroit’s aesthetic representation often suggests an emptiness, a lack of social action, a lack of community, and a lack of life. As Arnold points out, “such photography has the potential to fix the identity of a place in a certain moment…simply through the overrepresentation of a particular context.”13Ibid., 328. Images of empty lots, burned buildings, and dilapidated homes point towards a lack of inhabitants and a mass exodus of residents. Images of abandoned factories and industrial spaces evoke similar notions of stillness, inactivity, and a loss of economy. Combined, these images evoke a sense of doom, death, and even apocalypse.14Ibid., 333. Of course, Detroit is not a dead city. This fixed-view of a now decaying urban landscape once booming with social and economic activity contributes to ideas of a city in ruins, and the continued creation of ruin-porn employing Detroit as a subject provides the overrepresentation. As ruin-porn focused on Detroit becomes more widely disseminated, Detroit’s perceived identity as a city in decay becomes more crucial than ever. The decay evident throughout the city is notably found in areas inhabited by racialized populations and residents of lower socioeconomic status. The initial planning that underpins the contemporary urban environment does not in any way equate to, or guarantee social cohesion, durability or equality; the same can be said of contemporary attempts to revitalize the city or manage the decay. As Detroit begins a process of restoration and reconfiguration, many of the programs implemented overlook the most affected areas with the most vulnerable populations, and instead focus on areas like the downtown core which are more likely inhabited by upper-class, white populations and by industry. While the cycle of ruination evident throughout Detroit is in many ways fascinating to observe, it becomes largely fetishized and aestheticized through urban exploration rather than questioned for its social and cultural basis. This does little to inform observers to the causes of Detroit’s urban decay, or how a focus on urban decay in the city continues to influence the everyday lives of its citizens.
One example of a photographic narrative which supports this type of apocalyptic representation is Detroiturbex: Now and Then. This collection comprises composite images of two distinct time periods within the same space, producing images that capture differing states of decay and restoration. These photographs do more than simply superimpose a past grandeur onto a present object. They capture both the decay of urban space and the decay of the social, and in some instances, the reclamation and restoration of certain spaces. The dialectic between a once booming metropolis and a now decaying urban environment is exceptionally showcased in this collection. These images “are charged with nostalgia and instilled with a sense of the spectral;” they indicate a sense of loss, not just of urban space and structure, but of social cohesion, vitality, and optimism. 15Ibid., 327. They also support the apocalyptic narrative of sudden, abrupt ruination by contrasting two distinct periods and states side-by-side, or in this case as a composite. Interestingly, one aspect of this collection inverts the timeline of this representation, and provides images of urban ruins which are now restored or undergoing restoration contrasted against these same spaces in a prior state of ruination. These images evoke a sense of rebirth and a return of a once thriving social and cultural community. Regardless of the digital enhancements necessary to create these images, they present a stark dualism of a real place compressed into a comparison between two distinct and discrete moments in time. As Arnold states, “The photograph does not represent the past, rather it discursively produces it.”16Ibid., 329. With respect to Now & Then, we are immediately confronted by images that not only display urban ruins in contemporary time, but signify their past state of grandeur. We are immediately confronted by the overwhelming social and cultural loss that has occurred alongside urban decay with respect to photos of abandoned neighbourhoods and empty schools. While these images undoubtedly contribute to narratives about the death of Detroit, they also serve an important role as cultural artifact and contribute to a broader discourse about how Detroit will evolve moving forward.
Film & Narrative
Fiore DeRosa and Jen Senko’s The Vanishing City draws attention to the shifting nature of contemporary cities, pointing out that the ever-changing urban environment is also an ever-changing social environment. Like New York and the issues explored in this film, the issues faced by contemporary Detroit are the product of diverse histories that continue to provide influence. This film is less about the creation of ruin-porn and serves a more typical documentary purpose, but urban ruins and a strong focus on comparisons between historical booms and contemporary conditions in the city make it worth consideration with respect to Detroit’s changing social environment. Like New York, Detroit finds itself the product of a complex social history, marred by racialization, and the consequences of industry; the contemporary ruins sought after by the producers and consumers of ruin-porn are the very objects of past achievement and contemporary collapse that signify the death of a city. The representation of urban ruins in many cases appears as a simple by-product of growth and decay in the urban environment as a seemingly natural process. However, this ignores the treatment of these spaces in historical and present time, and it overlooks questions of how and why these structures have come to exist in their present state, what should be done about them, and how this reinforces or results from social inequalities. Film therefore provides a way to combine the aesthetics of ruin-porn with the cultural experiences of urban decay as told by residents.
Detropia (2012) is not a film entirely based around the presentation of ruins as art, although its creators are undoubtedly contributing to fetishism of urban ruins through their own work. As Arnold suggests, “[I]f the image of decay comes to take a firm root in the public imagination, then as Sontag suggests this is to be complicit in its misfortune.”17Ibid., 337. While Detropia takes steps to include the narrative of residents and their experiences in the city, it also presents the undeniable dualism of a city once booming, and now in decline, or at best, beginning to see a gradual rebirth. In this sense, it reinforces narratives of despair and desolation. A focus on urban ruins and abandonment seen in this film invoke a sense of doom as the social and economic issues faced by Detroit are explored through urban exploration and interaction with residents. It becomes increasingly clear through a film like Detropia that Detroit’s urban decay should not be thought of in the way one might consider a “natural” ruin. This ruination is a product of social and economic influence that continues to influence everyday life for citizens and their attempts to manage the city’s decay. First-person interviews extend the ability of this film beyond that of much ruin-porn, exemplifying the social realities of urban decay as told by Detroit’s residents. It seems as if the residents who live amongst this landscape in some ways have accepted the idea that Detroit is broken, or at least that Detroit is not going to return to its historical state. The filmmakers, by contrast, attempt to provide an optimistic tone about Detroit’s future as supported by the efforts of local governments and community initiatives. One of the more interesting examples of art acting in response to urban decay is the Heidelberg Project, a featured part of this film. Again, positionality of residents and urban explorers becomes a key factor to consider with these types of revitalization projects and their broader acceptance. The ruination and blight that present themselves as subjects for photography, film and urban art installations are in part the lived experience of residents within Detroit, something not always shared by producers and consumers of ruin-porn. The medium of film does seem to hold an advantage in terms of exploring the underlying causes of urban decay and ruination as these two films provide evidence of. Not only can the urban landscape be explored and documented, but important social and cultural questions can be addressed as part of the overall presentation. While Detropia does aim to subvert cultural assumptions of a dead Detroit, it remains a contributor to a broader cultural narrative which in many ways ignores the possibility of Detroit’s resurrection beyond the influence of art.
Numerous factors have contributed to dramatic changes in Detroit’s urban environment; the city as represented by ruin-porn largely portrays an environment of decay, blight, and emptiness. The ongoing change of Detroit’s landscape is implicated by a convergent set of issues, including social and political influences rooted in class inequality and racialization, largely supported by the actions of industry and government. The incredible complexity of Detroit’s growth and regression which has contributed to its current state cannot be effectively represented through ruin-porn any more than through a written paper. While urban ruin photography captures an aesthetic element of contemporary experience in Detroit, it overly exposes places and objects in decay. The City of Detroit has undergone dramatic shifts throughout its history, and this continues today. Detroit is not solely a site of loss and decay, it also exists as a space in which to reimagine and reconfigure the social, political, and economic needs of a complex, contemporary city. The collapse of Detroit does provide the opportunity to reimagine what a contemporary, post-industrial North American city can be.
While Detroit has arguably been the hardest hit city in North America by the 2008 recession, it is far from being the only example. The key difference, which has intrigued urban explorers, lies in the enormity of the decay that has occurred in a city once occupied by millions. Attention should be brought to an urban environment like Detroit, not to stigmatize or extend judgements on its governments, industries, or residents, but instead to record this process of social and spatial reconfiguration. Urban photography and film are important resources that can not only produce aesthetic and apocalyptic imagery but can serve a benevolent cause of restoring and reimagining contemporary Detroit, or bringing attention to the underlying causes of urban decay. As the number of buildings and spaces which are either abandoned, condemned or scheduled for razing increases, so too do the number of buildings and spaces being reclaimed, restored, or repurposed by the citizens of Detroit. There are ethical considerations to all aspects of the cycle of ruination and restoration, but Detroit stands as a strong example of a cultural ability to exist and prosper despite the precarious nature of contemporary cities, complex social hierarchies, and the ever-changing spatial arrangements of urban environments, including those influenced by processes of decay, demolition, ruination and reimagination.
Spencer Cunningham is an upper-year student at Trent University completing the Bachelor of Arts Honours Program in Media Studies, with a minor in Sociology. His research pays particular attention to representations of inequality through media. Personally, Spencer is an avid cyclist, musician and proud father of a seven-year-old cat.
|Arnold, Sarah. 2015. “Urban Decay Photography and Film: Fetishism and the Apocalyptic Imagination.” Journal of Urban History (SAGE Publications) 41 (2): 335.
|McDonald, John F. 2014. “What happened to and in Detroit?” Urban Studies (SAGE Publications) 51 (16): 3310.
|Steinmetz, George. “Harrowed Landscapes: white ruingazers in Namibia and Detroit and the cultivation of memory.” Visual Studies 23.3 (2008): 229.
|McDonald, “What happened to and in Detroit?”, 3320.
|Fein, Zach. 2006-2012. The Abandoned City of Detroit. http://zfein.com/photography/detroit/air_dead/index.html.
|Gordillo, Gaston. 2014. Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction. Duke University Press: 2.
|Steinmetz, George. “Harrowed Landscapes: white ruingazers in Namibia and Detroit and the cultivation of memory.” Visual Studies 23.3 (2008): 221.
|Jameson, Frederic. 1988. “Cognitive Mapping.” Eds. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg. Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. U. of Illinois: 348.
|Arnold, Sarah. “Urban Decay Photography and Film: Fetishism and the Apocalyptic Imagination.” Journal of Urban History 41.2 (2015): 329.