Seeing Dubai Through a Cell Phone Camera

From Smithsonian:

Dubai In his new book, iDubai, Sternfeld has published scores of these photographs: an opulent chrome sports car awaits its valet parker outside the Kempinski Hotel; a model of downtown Dubai features red “sold” flags poking from the skyscrapers. Others feature aisles of colorful packaged goods, shopping carts overflowing with toys, and tourists bent intently over their own smart phones, oblivious to the nearby stranger photographing them with his. And yet Sternfeld says he came to feel a certain affinity. Some of the malls were “imaginative, interesting places” with a “dreamlike quality.” More important, they served a vital social role as town centers, places for friends and family to gather. And he often noticed scenes of paternal love—men eating with children at the food court, or pushing a stroller into a glass elevator, or, as on the opposite page, contemplating the wonders of an indoor ski slope—an aspect of the Arabic male he felt was underrepresented in Western media.

The photographs in iDubai are deeply ambivalent. The perversity of modernity, from Sternfeld’s point of view, is that even these moments of familial togetherness take place within a culture that is ultimately unsustainable and destructive. He has emphasized that iDubai is a criticism of globalized, and not Arab, consumerism; what he hopes for is a greater appreciation of what he sees as our shaky future.

More here.