A photographer friend once told me the secret to her mystifyingly good home interior shots: “The trick is that you have to go through and clear away everything that’s a part of daily living,” she said. “Tissue boxes, cat toys, magazines — all the signs of life. That’s how you get a polished-looking interior.” Once you’re aware of that, those Dwell magazine spreads become less impressive: The people on display are not truly evolved humans with no need for clutter; they’ve just pushed the standard chaos of life on Earth outside of the frame.
I feel a similar sensation paging through Detroit: The Dream Is Now, a glossy compendium of the city’s places and people by photographer Michel Arnaud. It’s not not Detroit, but from the perspective of someone who lives here, it’s also not quite the Detroit that I’m familiar with. The everyday mess of the place has been cleared away.