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Postindustrial Imagery and Digital Networks: Toward New Modes of Urban Preservation?


Many pictures circulating online inform industrial legacies by mapping, aestheticizing, or documenting contemporary ruin landscapes, such as brownfields and other remnants of industry. This phenomenon seems to mark a turning point in the history of heritage, for marginal interests spread and tend to become popular hobbies. Nevertheless, the practices of display implemented by Internet users show various perspectives connected with offline experiences. They may reveal conflicts of perception and narrative but also alternative ways of seeing how to preserve precarious places without following the path of museumification. From an inductive approach, this article explores how sharing digital photographs leads to recognition and increases the value of (post)industrial inheritance, engendering innovative tactics of preservation through networking. The method used is based on a “multimodal ethnography,” taking into account the diversity and the intertwining of modes expressed through a range of different media.