Title

Empty Landscapes: Orientalist Photography and the Beginnings of ‘Ruin Porn,’

Abstract

With the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839, photography became the newest visual medium to depict the Middle East as consumable to European and American audiences. British and French photography depicted the Holy Land and Egypt as a region in deterioration, with ruins that referenced ancient pasts. Photographers rendered these sites as empty and depopulated, without regard for contemporary life. Intentionally or not, they framed the region as available for the taking and in need of intervention from the West. These images, preoccupied with emptiness and crumbling sites, were the first photographs to glorify decay, embodying the “ruin porn” tropes now popular with images of deteriorating urban landscapes in cities such as Detroit. In their glorification of emptiness, early Middle East landscape photographs stand as the first to enframe, capture and fetishize degeneration, a photographic tradition that continues today.

Faculty Sponsor

Elyse Semerdjian

Sponsor Department/Programs

History

Tracks

Art and Interpretation

Terms of Use

If you have questions about permitted uses of this content, please contact the ARMINDA administrator

Location

Kimball Theatre

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 12th, 2:00 PM Apr 12th, 2:15 PM

Empty Landscapes: Orientalist Photography and the Beginnings of ‘Ruin Porn,’

Kimball Theatre

With the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839, photography became the newest visual medium to depict the Middle East as consumable to European and American audiences. British and French photography depicted the Holy Land and Egypt as a region in deterioration, with ruins that referenced ancient pasts. Photographers rendered these sites as empty and depopulated, without regard for contemporary life. Intentionally or not, they framed the region as available for the taking and in need of intervention from the West. These images, preoccupied with emptiness and crumbling sites, were the first photographs to glorify decay, embodying the “ruin porn” tropes now popular with images of deteriorating urban landscapes in cities such as Detroit. In their glorification of emptiness, early Middle East landscape photographs stand as the first to enframe, capture and fetishize degeneration, a photographic tradition that continues today.

Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).