The Ruins of Detroit (Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel) Analysis

I always think it’s easiest to include an image that your are analyzing, so you can constantly refer back to it. I took a screenshot of the image while on the “The Ruins of Detroit” website. I chose to analyze this image, which is the Ballroom at Lee Plaza Hotel.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 3.13.15 PM

Compositional Elements

There are some really great elements at play here, but what attracted me the most to this image was the lines formed by the arches in the ceiling. Noticing these curves connects the viewer’s eye to the other curves and lines in the rest of the composition, for example the piano. It takes a second to realize the object closest to you is a piano because of its orientation. There is a sense of depth in this image, conveyed by the successive curves in the ceiling as well as the succession of the piano, chair, another object, and the boxes in the very back of the room. The lighting comes primarily form the window, creating a sense of natural lighting. The rest of the room seems to have a sort of blue-ish tint (mostly the bottom half of the image). There is also symmetry and balance at play here – the room seems to be divided in half by the intersection of the curved ceiling. The objects are scattered evenly on both halves of the image, but the weight of the piano creates a tension with the stool/bench/chair almost directly across from it. The piano and chair seem to teeter on following the rule of thirds, but also appear to divide the room in half. The viewpoint of this image allows the viewer to see the image as they normally would if they were entering a room. Culture definitely has an influences on this image as we view ballrooms to be rather ritzy, so seeing it in this state creates a sort of tension.

Larger Scheme

This image is essential in demonstrating the larger scheme and purpose of “The Ruins of Detroit” photo essay. Because Detroit is a large city, it is necessary that there are many images of landmarks, abandoned buildings, schools, etc. From the website, “Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension.” This image is a small part yet a core piece in symbolizing the city of Detroit and society. Without this image, the photo essay would be missing some key pieces in archiving the history of Detroit.

Emotional & Rhetorical Effect

Overall, this image contributes to the feeling of abandonment evident in this photo essay. The debris covering the floor boards and the eerie blue-ish lighting create the feeling of a cold and empty room. One thing that creates tension is the orientation of the piano – how did it get to be on its side like that? Someone, at some point in time, had to lift it into that position. This further evokes the feeling of abandonment because it conveys the remnants of the human touch at one point or another. I would say the primary audience for this photo essay are the people who used to live in Detroit or people who are interested in archiving. Based on the audience, this image helps to serve the purpose of remembering and symbolizing the ruins of the once-booming Detroit. The collection of images shows viewers how to accept the ruins for what they are today – as a part of Detroit’s landscape.

– LH


One thought on “The Ruins of Detroit (Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel) Analysis

  1. Yea, that’s an interesting point about the curves. I didn’t see that at first, but now that you mention it, I see that it’s prominent.

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