April 5, 2022

Suburban photography (no pictures yet, just musing on the topic)

In the early 2010s I wrote periodically on the topic of suburban archaeology -- discovering what life was like during a largely vanished civilization, from the material traces left among the ruins in the present. And here I am, still inhabiting the ruins of the blogosphere in the 2020s, like Beast waiting for a Belle to stumble upon my castle and ultimately choose to live here with me. ("She's not gonna delete social media to post on your blog, bro.")

The next post will review those old entries in the series. For now, some thoughts on the topic of photographs of suburban settings.

I was rummaging through some folders on another ancient artifact, my 2006 ThinkPad -- which still works perfectly -- and found a whole bunch of images that I never got around to posting during the suburban archaeology series. I had already made the main points, these were just supplementary visuals to document what I was talking about.

But they were things most people already know about in general, like tree carvings, so the specific images weren't that important. And the image quality is not good, I must've grabbed someone's early iPhone since dedicated digital point-and-shoot cameras were supposedly outdated. Wow, I compared images from my 2003 digital p&s to the ones I took with this early 2010s iPhone, and the phone camera is just terrible. I don't think the iPhone camera caught up to the run-of-the-mill p&s from the 2000s until the past several years. I'll try to clean them up somehow, though, and upload them here for historical memory's sake.

I did manage to shoot some tree carvings when I got a proper film SLR camera a few years later, and if I can get a good quality scan of those, I'll upload those as well. I want to upload others from that little trip around the interesting places of the 'burbs, like the cemetery, the woods, the grounds of the historical sites, and so on.

I'm just sick to death of looking at images of cities, and of city dwellers, especially in America where they're so unrepresentative. They just don't resonate, connect, or land -- that's not who Americans are, and those places are not what America is. Like it, hate it, whatever, it's the truth. I can't stand the trend of American photographers LARP-ing as Europeans and only shooting the one little neighborhood in their city that looks quirky, quaint, and European, when the rest of it feels like the typical bland lifeless sprawling American city.

Not because I think the 'burbs are superior aesthetically or morally or anything, it's just not true to the setting and the people and the history that are supposedly being captured in a slice-of-life reality way.

TV cinematography has been the only bastion of suburban or small-town scenes, and most of the examples I'm thinking of are pretty old by now -- Desperate Housewives, Mad Men, Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, Stranger Things, and Riverdale. Also in that period, Gossip Girl was one of the few looks at New York City that was fresh and exciting and relatable and organic, because it wasn't narrowly zoomed in on a bunch of boring hick 20/30-something transplants LARP-ing as cool sophisticates.

As for still images, though, I can't remember the last time I saw places other than the densest parts of a city center. Nature or landscape photography doesn't count if there aren't signs of human presence. I mean, a place where people are living, but outside of dense downtowns.

I wish I were a pro photographer so the pictures looked better, but over the past decade, the creative class has completely turned its back on its society, and only navel-gazes about their boring decadent little nabe in an every-city dystopia. So it falls to those of us who at least took some pictures of real life to put them out there, however amateur they may be technically.


  1. Edgy mid-2000s karaoke Gura is gonna have me posting some pics from my own edgy mid-2000s phase / lifestyle. Also because I found them while rummaging through those folders on the 2006 ThinkPad, and thought they'd add to the historical preservation of ruined civilizations and cultures.

    Also, to reassure Aimee that her former imaginary bf is a bona fide hot guy, hehe.

    It's the time of the season...

  2. Feeling Gothic from Gura's emo-tinged karaoke. So here's one after a staple song of hers:

    * * *

    I am a Blog Boy, from Neverweb
    Write whatever interests me, not what trends
    Rummaging through ruins, for treasure overlooked
    Outside the panopticon, in my nook
    "Un-sub, Blog Boy," they say to me
    "From all virtuality"
    Neverweb is host to Blog Boys like me
    And Blog Boys like me can just be

    (2 whole beats on the long "u" vowel in "virtuality," with some melisma in between them to break up the monotony)


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