Development & Surveillance Porn (2014)

Videography, Photography, Narration

All photos and video shot Easter Sunday, 2014.

Updated & Re-edited May 16, 2014 and added voice over:

RUIN PORN is an art movement that focuses on the decline of cities, buildings and infrastructure, specifically capturing urban decay and VACANCY.

DETROIT and other post-industrial cities around the world are popular subjects.

RUIN PORN has been widely criticized for exploiting other’s economic and social hardships while fueling a post-apocalyptic vision that disregards historical and social context, a tabula rasa or ‘blank slate’. In Detroit, this vision, these ‘blank slate glasses’ justify a lawlessness and often unrecognized inhumanity that supports not an end to corruption, but merely the transference of corruption from one set of hands to the next. With some analysis and honesty, it can become apparent that there are long-term overt and covert strategies at play here.

In governance, Emergency Management being one of many examples. In development, Detroit Future City’s strategic ‘winners and losers’ is another. The population of ‘losers’, the anticipated and engineered losses, those left behind and their outrage, anger or inability to cope, for whatever the reason, are then used to justify the creation of a high-tech private surveillance infrastructure that protects investments through numerous private policing authorities that have vast and overlapping jurisdictions and little accountability, save to their corporate guidelines.

DETROIT DEVELOPMENT/SURVEILLANCE PORN is a visual meditation/mediation on history, power, surveillance and the displacement of people that strives towards a creative commentary on and counter-expression to RUIN PORN. It strives toward documenting the ABANDONMENT and VACANCY of humanity that is interwoven in CORPORATE DOMINATION of our experience.

ORIGINAL DOCUMENTATION: Good Afternoon Detroit and all. This morning’s Meditation/Mediation has bleed into the afternoon. It carries forward from the weekend’s focus on resurrection and relationships. Yesterday, I took advantage of the holiday to shoot some “b-roll” for a project and do what I used to call a ‘walkabout’, a visionary moving/walking/sitting mediation through ‘Gillyville’, the area of downtown owned by Dan Gilbert. This is an attempt at portraying the sterility of surveillance and corporate dominance of the landscape in a way that contrasts the drive-by, objectification of abandonment and vacancy that frames what has been identified as ‘ruin porn’.

For me, it’s also an expression of the heavy-handed, top-down approach to development currently, and historically, applied in Detroit. My intention was to commune with the space in a different way, from a different perspective, listen to the buildings and the angles/angels. When I worked for Compuware in the 00s I would spend smoke breaks walking through all the alleyways, learning what was behind the structures, the ‘backside’ of the system, mapping the relationship between what is seen and what is not. So much has changed in the past decade. Yesterday, I was able to reconnect to that aspect of my intuition, to that ‘soulful’ work that lead me to an awareness that Detroit, being built on a ‘straight’, a waterway connecting two larger bodies of water, and due to this, is an elemental (land/water) crossroads, a portal for transformation, a sacred space, a powerful node in the aetheric/energetic realm. I thank my makers for bringing me this far. Due to the energetic qualities of this work I couldn’t sleep last night. This video emerged as a rather random and rough document of what I saw and heard. Being spontaneous and random, there are a ton of ‘mistakes’ that make me cringe, but there are others that raise hairs. I close with this poem/invocation of elemental energies from 2003.

Promethean Night, a curse on angels

I remember watching as the city burned amazed and awaiting ever august Detroit made devils night as she did Valliants and Galaxies Burning Prometheus rising planting apocalyptic dreams in virile minds to seek vengeance and let loose on landscapes I now watch crass angels in suits move clean machines across the lucid Vulcan dreamscapes of once infinite possibilities broken glass and pavement cracks allow breath, oxygen to burn I curse sterile attempts to polish and smother and command Prometheus rise again!

*This was written in my cubicle while working at Compuware, ‘Angel’s/Devil’s Night’, October 30, 2003. It was either part of the impetus for, or grew from, my involvement with the Detroit Promethean Society, which is a story for another time. ~ ed. Sept. 2012