pervasiveness of humanity

The photo I chose was “Michigan Central Station” from the Ruins of Detroit photo essay.  This image is the first photo in the collection, and had the most impact on me. As the title says, the image is an outside image looking upon the large neglected Michigan Central Station building. It is a wide shot, capturing most of the building, but has been cropped so that the building takes up almost the entire frame. You cannot see any sky or other buildings in the background, but in front of the building you can see a very small, horizontal line of grass that is growing on the steps entering the massive structure. The grass adds an interesting element to the composition; it is the only real color in the whole shot. The building itself is a tan/grey color throughout, and the windows are all broken and replaced by black shadows. The only real color in the shot besides the grass in the front is some graffiti writing near the top of the building, written in red and blue paint.

The image has an almost-perfect symmetry and balance, where the window frames and arches of the decrepit building create lines, patterns, and frames within the image. The main portion of the building is set back from the front and sides, which create a frame for the building. The symmetry provides a perfect left/right balance. This is the first picture in the Ruins of Detroit photo essay, and serves as the hook shot to interest the viewers.

I consider this the hook shot, because when I first saw it, the photo reminded me of various shots from the movie I am Legend, where the main character lives in an abandoned New York City. Many of the buildings in that movie look similar to this one.  Almost every window in the shot is broken, but the frames of the windows remain. The windows, edges and roof of the building is falling apart, and grass is beginning to grow on the steps, but the main structure is still fully intact. This resembles the enduring elements of mankind; just like in the movie I am Legend. This created an eerie affect for me, because it is weird how a movie like I am Legend is becoming reality. The city of Detroit is becoming abandoned by humankind, and once-prospering areas and buildings like Michigan Central Station have been abandoned and turned over to mother nature. Putting this shot first in the photo essay gives the viewer a sense of the level of human abandonment they are about to observe, and the pervasiveness of the human race.


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