A future for Hashima: pornography, representation and time

Lavery, C. and Hassall, L. (2015) A future for Hashima: pornography, representation and time. Performance Research, 20(3), pp. 112-125. (doi:10.1080/13528165.2015.1049045)

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This article sets out to investigate the relationship between ruins, futurity, and ‘ruin porn’ - a visual mode of representation that all too often seeks to fix post-industrial ruins as mere aesthetic objects, devoid of history and/or temporality. It does so by focusing on performance, which, in this context, is understood as a processual mode of art-making that provides spectators with an experience of time. In this expanded definition of performance, as one may perhaps expect, the performativity of the object is not limited to the theatrical event alone; rather, it now inheres in sometimes uncanny durational aspects of both still and moving images. The essay proceeds in three stages. Part one provides a historical and theoretical overview of the type of performance inherent in ‘ruin porn’; part two critiques two images from Yves Marchand's and Romain Meffre's Gunkanjima (2013), a photo album that attempted to document the ruins of Hashima, an island situated 15 kilometres from Nagasaki City in the East China Sea; and part three investigates the very different aesthetic at work in Lee Hassall's film Return to Battleship Island (2013) which was made in response to AHRC- funded project, ‘The Future of Ruins: Reclaiming Abandonment and Toxicity on Hashima Island’ (2013). In this reading of Return to Battleship Island , the onus is on showing how Hassall's film, in its representation of Hashima's crumbling apartment blocks and industrial buildings, intentionally sought to contest the atemporal logic of ‘ruin porn’ by attempting to endow the viewing experience with a sense of futurity. Crucially, this does not mean that film represented the future as an object, but, on the contrary, tried to make it palpable, as something one undergoes physically in the very act of reception.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Special issue: On Ruins and Ruination.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lavery, Professor Carl
Authors: Lavery, C., and Hassall, L.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Performance Research
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1469-9990

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
623221The Future of Ruins: Reclaiming Abandonment and Toxicity on Hashima IslandDeborah DixonArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/K005308/1SCHOOL OF GEOGRAPHICAL & EARTH SCIENCES