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OUGD501: Context of Practice 2 (Lecture) - Cities and Film

This lecture looks at: 
  • The city in Modernism
  • The beginnings of an urban sociology
  • The city as public and private space
  • The city in Postmodernism
  • The relation of the individual to the crowd in the city
Georg Simmel (1858- 1918)
  • German sociologist
  • Writes Metropolisand Mental Life in 1903
  • Influences critical theory of the Frankfurt School thinkers eg: Walter Benjamin, Kracauer, Adorno and Horkheimer 
Dresden Exhibi-on 1903
  • Simmel is asked to lecture on the role of intellectual life in the city but instead reverses the idea and writes about the effect of the city on the individual
  • (HerbertBayerLonely Metropolitan 1932)
  • Celebrates the city at the start of the C20th.
Urban sociology
  • the resistance of the individual to being levelled, swallowed up in the social- technological mechanism.
  • Georg Simmel The Metropolis and Mental Life 1903
  • Lewis Hine (1923)
Architect Louis Sullivan (1856-1924)
  • creator of the modern skyscraper,
  • an influential architect and critic of the Chicago School
  • mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright,
  • Guaranty Building was built in 1894 by Adler & Sullivan in Buffalo NY
Carson Pririe Sco- store in Chicago (1904) 
  • Sky scrapers represent the upwardly mobile city of business opportunity
  • Fire cleared buildings in Chicago in 1871 and made way for Louis Sullivan new aspiratonal buildings
  • The american dream
  • Manhatta (1921) Paul Strand and Charles Scheeler
  • The scale of man power that’s uses to run this industrial city.

Charles Scheeler
  • Ford Motor Company's plant at River Rouge, Detroit (1927). 
  • Fordism: mechanised labour relations 
  • Coined by Antonio Gramsci in his essay "Americanism and Fordism” of 1934
  • “the eponymous manufacturing system designed to spew out standardised, low-cost goods and afford its workers decent enough wages to buy them” (De Grazia: 2005:4)
  • Relating from the body, the human beings and the cities. 
  • Becoming the machine of the human being, which must take part of it to function.
Modern Times (1936) Charlie Chaplin
  • 'In handicrafts and manufacture, the workman makes use of a tool, in the factory, the machine makes use of him' (Marx cited in Adamson 2010 p75) 
Stock market crash of 1929
  • Factories close and unemployment goes up drama;dally
  • Leads to “the Great Depression”
  • Margaret Bourke-White
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
  • The term flâneur comes from the French masculine noun flâneur —which has the basic meanings of "stroller", "lounger", "saunterer", "loafer"—which itself comes from the French verb flâner, which means "to stroll”  
Charles Baudelaire
  • The nineteenth century French poet Charles Baudelaire proposes a version of the flâneur— that of "a person who walks the city in order to experience it”.
  • Art should capture this
  • Simultaneously apart from and a part of the crowd
  • Walter Benjamin
  • Adopts the concept of the urban observer as an analy:cal tool and as a lifestyle as seen in his writings
  • (ArcadesProject,1927– 40), Benjamin’s final, incomplete book about Parisian city life in the 19th century
  • BerlinChronicle/Berlin Childhood (memoirs)
Photographer as flaneur
  • Susan Sontag On Photography - The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitring, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world 'picturesque.' (pg. 55)  
  • Daido Moriyama (1970’s) Shinjuku district of Tokyo

  • The Invisible Flâneuse. Women and the Literature of Modernity
  • Janet Wolff
  • Theory, Culture & Society November 1985 vol. 2 no. 3 37- 46
  • The literature of modernity, describing the flee<ng, anonymous, ephemeral encounters of life in the metropolis.
  • Susan Buck-Morss,
  • The Dialec,cs of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Susan Buck-Morss, in this text suggests that the only figure a woman on the street can be is either a prostitute or a bag lady.
  • Arbus/Hopper
  • Automat (1927)
  • Uncomfortable sense, a still from a story. 
  • The action of staring into space, gives the impression that there is something reflect on. 
  • Sophie Calle Suite Venitienne (1980)
  • Calle constructs dire-istic stories,
  • Black and white, long lens photographs.

  • City as labyrinth of streets and alleyways in which you can get lost but at the same 8me will always end up back where you begin
  • Don’t look Now(1973) Nicholas Roeg
  • The city is a place which you can get lost, but not get lost you always get back to where to started, some sort of maze.
  • Trapped in a state what is real and what is imaginary. 
The Detective (1980)
  • Wants to provide photographic evidence of her existence
  • His photos and notes on her are displayed next to her photos and notes about him
  • Set in Paris
  • She pays a decretive to follow her, whist she follows an individual
  • The detective's diary is displays beside her story in a gallery.
Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Stills (1977-80)
  • The figure of the female in the city is communicated in Sherman’s film stills,
  • A sort of film noire-style of stills.
  • The woman dwarfed by the city.
  • Here is New York book/exhibition
  • Uncanny similarities between the 9/11 2001 image, and Sherman’s image from the 1970’s.
  • 2001/1977  
Weegee (Arthur Felig) (1945)
  • Signiture photography style, reporting on emergencies in the cities
  • His name came about, as people thought he had a wee gee board, being able to predict these accidents, before the media. 
  • However, he had a Police radio, and a film developing kit in his car.
  • The Naked City (1948) - a book in 1945, then developed in the 1948 film. Classic film noire story.
LA Noire (2011)
  • the first video game to be shown at the Tribecca Film Festival
  • Incorporates “Mo-onScan”, where actors are recorded by 32 surrounding cameras to capture facial expressions from every angle.The technology is central to the game's interrogation mechanic, as players must use the suspects' reactions to questioning to judge whether they’re lying or not.
  • You play as the crime investigator, the detective, the story changes based on your decisions
Cities of the future/past- Fritz Lang Metropolis (1929)
  • Pictured in 1929 is a city of the future, the skyscrapers
  • Ridley Scott Bladerunner (1982/2019) LA  
  • Set in 2019, predicting the future, with a noire aesthetic. 
Lorca di Corcia Heads (2001) NY 
  • He photographs individuals, the films look so constructed, like film stills, as the subjects do not know they’re being photographed.
  • Singled out, loneliness in the city.
  • In 2006, a New York trial court issued a ruling in a case involving one of his photographs. One of diCorcia's New York random subjects was Ermo Nussenzweig, an Orthodox Jew who objected on religious grounds to diCorcia's publishing in an artistic exhibition a photograph taken of him without his permission. The photo's subject argued that his privacy and religious rights had been violated by both the taking and publishing of the photograph of him. The judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the photograph taken of Nussenzweig on a street is art - not commerce - and therefore is protected by the First  Ammendement.
  • Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Judith J. Gische ruled that the photo of Nussenzweig—a head shot showing him sporting a scraggly white beard, a black hat and a black coat was art, even though the photographer sold 10 prints of it at $20,000 to $30,000 each. The judge ruled that New York courts have "recognized that art can be sold, at least in limited editions, and still retain its artistic character.
  • [F]irst [A]mendmentprotection of art is not limited to only starving artists. A profit motive in itself does not necessarily compel a conclusion that art has been used for trade purposes."
  • Walker Evans Many are called (1938)
  • The images are apparently people directly staring into the lens, they’re intact unaware they’re being photographed - a concealed lens.
  • In a sort of limbo - everyone seems alone, separate.
Postmodern city
  • Fredrick jameson Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late CapitalismVerso, 1991 
Postmodern City in photography: Joel Meyerowitz Broadway and West 46th Street NY 1976  
  • Lack of direction in the framing, we’re not told where to look. 
  • The image is busy with colour, action, text, advertising
  • He doesn’t tell us what to think - we’re overwhelmed. 
  • Taken at street level this offers an eye level view of incipient confusion. The eye is overwhelmed by signs, and colour adds to the effect of chaos.  Although the image is full of detail there is no sense of tradition or of unity. Indeed it is difficult to find a solid building at all 
 9/11 Ci'zen journalism: the end of the flaneur?
  • Adam Bezer 2001
  • Liz Wells says that phrase is first seen in an ar'cle by Stuart Allen Online News: Journalism and the Internet in 2006. She discusses the 7/7 bombings in London and the immediacy of the mobile phone images which recorded the event as commuters travel to work. These images were online within an hour of the event.
Surveillance City
  • “Since the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in 2001 and the ensuing ‘war on terrorism’ there has been an enormous ramping up of investment in machine reading technologies. If the nineteenth century saw the automaFon of picture making , in the 21st century we now seek machines to look at pictures on our behalf.” (Wells: 09: 339)
  • Stills from the video, Untitled, 2003, by Runa Islam shown in the Intervention exhibition 2003, John Hansaard Gallery. Islam uses BBC news footage of the collapse of the World Trade Centre, 11 September 2001. Slowed down and in reverse, the back to front collapse of the towers acquires •a ‘terrible beauty’. The viwer is forced to contemplate events in a manner which is very different from any earlier responses they might have had to the ubiquitously show news footage. The ‘sublime’ quality of the panorama is dealt with in such a way as to make the viewer ask if Katherine Stockhausen  wasn’t perhaps touching on some unmentionable aspect of any viewers experience I describing the collapse of the WTC as “the greatest work of art ever”?
jpeg ny02, 2004 
  • 2004 - Thomas Ruff (German, born 1958)
  • Titled jpeg to indicate the digital pictures—anonymously created images downloaded off the Internet—from which they are derived, Ruff's newest works greatly expand the matrix of individual pixels in low-resolution files. The perceptual effect of this transformation—from the size of a computer screen to the grand scale of history paintings—is that the pictures seem to fragment and explode before our eyes, trailing off into a seemingly infinite progression of tonal shifts from pixel to pixel and in every direction. The disquieting result is that the iconic image of the attack on the World Trade Center seared in collective memory becomes ungraspable, fugitive, slippery, almost aqueous. (met museum) 
Further Research 
  • Cityscapes of modernity: cri2cal explora2ons By David Frisby
  • Art of America: Modern Dreams (2/3) Andrew Grahame Dixon BBC 4 21/11/11
  • De Grazia, Victoria (2005), Irresis2ble Empire: America's Advance Through 20th-Century Europe, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
  • Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialec2cs of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (1989) 

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