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DOI: 10.30628/1994-9529-2018-14.3-74-90

VARVARA PAVLOVNA CHUMAKOVA
National Research University
“Higher School of Economics”
Moscow, Russia
ORCID: 0000-0003-3057-8930
e-mail: vchumakova@hse.ru

 

THE AESTHETICS OF RUINS IN VERNACULAR PHOTOGRAPHY IN RUSSIAN SOCIAL MEDIA: STATING THE RESEARCH PROBLEM

Abstract. The article is devoted to the phenomenon of vernacular photography of ruins and related images in modern Russian-language social media. The flourishing of this phenomenon occurred in the 2010s, and today we can discern it in all aspects. The author analyzes the community of “Aesthetics of screwings” created in 2014 and very popular in the modern network culture. The method of observation and analyzing content based on the theory of signs of Charles Peirce and Rosalind Krauss, the concept of Studium and Punctum by Roland Barthes, and the concept of the cliché of Marshall McLuhan and Wilfred Watson are applied. The proposed optics make it possible to perceive the practice of photographing and viewing photographs as a game. As a result, the main games in which the users play with the community content are identified. Thus, the following games with the camera are found: the search for old signs in everyday occurrences, the search for connection between the old and the new, the attraction of travels to remote abandoned places, the attraction of discoveries of remote inhabited places. Games with a photo on the screen: criticism of what is occurring in the country, guessing the place and time of the film shooting, recognizing the native, searching for allusions, disputes about the etalon of “screwings.”
The subsequent expansion of these games, in which the images of the ruins become an archetype, which is split into clichés, is associated with amateur drawing and collage. Among these games: the romanticizing of unhappy love and loneliness, the sentimentality of comfort and reminiscences and criticism of socio-political issues. While examining the signs through which authors and viewers interact, we come to the conclusion that through the indexation of the old in images there occurs an existential experience of oscillation between the old and the new, life and death, the subjective, the individual. Therein it becomes possible to discover the “Punctum” in the photos of ruins, which is difficult to reflect, to pronounce, which causes controversy among the members of the community. The symbolic aspect is often associated more with the “Studium” of the photographs. Thereby, the global historical narrative is destroyed; the past, the present and the future are no longer connected in a single chain, but grow out of individual private memories, stories, or commentaries. As our research has demonstrated, the popularity of the aesthetization of ruins in the modern network culture may be associated with the crisis of identity and the reevaluation of relations with the past in the post-Soviet space.

Keywords: photography of ruins, vernacular photography, social media, signs, clichés.