Urban Life Decay

Each of these photo essays were captivating in their own way. The most striking of which, in my eyes, was The Ruins of Detroit. The image I’m choosing to analyze is that of the Fort Shelby Hotel. While all of the images in this photo essay were intriguing, this one jumped out at me for several reasons:

1. I found the sense of depth in this picture to be incredible. The hallway appears to never actually have an end. It’s like you are peering out into the abyss, yet you are in what was, most assuredly, a thriving hotel at one point. In terms of compositional elements, I also like how the photographer chose to include a partial view out of the window. He could have taken a picture of the hallway only, but he chose to offset it and add tension to the photo by giving the added depth of being able to see the building across the street. In this way the photo is more balanced because it is not simply an image of a dilapidated hallway.

2. This image fits in well with the overarching theme of this photo essay. I believe the theme can be summed up in a few words; abandonment, neglect, and decay. When looking up supplementary information on this photo essay one author compared this view of Detroit to an American Pompeii. A more accurate comparison could not be made. It’s as if these once occupied structures were simply abandoned at one point leaving them frozen in their current state of being, now subject to the wrath of nature. Without proper upkeep, when sites are neglected like this, the Earth will eventually reclaim them.

3. The emotional responses I have towards this work are varied. It’s somewhat unnerving to see how decrepit a once booming city has become. There is a feeling of despair associated with these images, and it’s impossible to lose sight of the fact that this could happen elsewhere. Dissimilarly, I am almost enthralled and enjoy seeing these images, because of the power Earth has to reclaim what we have changed so swiftly is nothing short of spectacular. Now granted this building isn’t falling over just yet, but the signs of ware are evident on the inside and will spread like a cancer until until it has many many years down the road.

This is what happens when neglect and abandonment occur, but is this the natural life cycle of things? Is there something we should have done to preserve the city, or is relinquishing our control over the site the most natural and progressive thing to be done?

 

-BPD

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