Thursday, 7 November 2013

LECTURE 05: CITIES AND FILM

This lectures addresses:

- The city in modernism
- The beginnings of an urban sociology
- The city as a public and private space-  a public and a private space, made up of individuals. How does individual space make up this?
- The city in postmodernism
- The relation of the individual to the crowd in the city 

Georg Simmel (1958-1918)

German Sociologist
Wrote - Metropolis and Mental Life essay in 1903.



This influenced the Dresden Exhibition in 1903. This took place in the same time Freud's findings came to light.

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
(Herbert Bayer Lonely Metropolitan 1932)

Urban Sociology
The resistance of the individual being levelled, swallowed up in the social-technological and mechanism (Georg Simmel, The Metroplis and Mental Life 1903)

Architect Louis Sullivan (1856-1924)
Creator of the modern skyscraper, who was an influential arhitext and critic of the chicago school. He was also the mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright. 
Guranty Building was buil in 1984 by Adlen and Sullivan in Brooklyn. Fitted in with form meets function and the power of modernism.






He and Adler divided the building into four zones. The basement was the mechanical and utility area. Since this level was below ground, it did not show on the face of the building. The next zone was the ground-floor zone which was the public areas for street-facing shops, public entrances and lobbies. The third zone was the office floors with identical office cells clustered around the central elevator shafts. The final zone was the terminating zone, consisting of elevator equipment, utilities and a few offices.

The supporting steel structure of the building was embellished with terra cotta blocks. Different styles of block delineated the three visible zones of the building. Sullivan was quoted as saying, "It must be every inch a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exultation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line.
Sullivan’s ornament is unmistakably original, but it is not without precedents in the contemporary tradition of the English Arts and Crafts movement. “The numerous parallels between Sullivan’s ornament and the architectural decoration of Furness make it clear that Sullivan’s ornament came directly from Furness and, through him, from earlier ornament by English architects.” (Sprague 1979).

Carson Pririe Scott Store in Chicago - 1904

Skyscrapers represent the upwardly mobile city of business opportunity, reflecting power, social status and work status. After a fire destroyed many buildings in the city, many buildings were replaced with the likes of skyscrapers. The growth of the city is explored by Paul Strand is is shown in the skyscrapers built around the time - height, class and man-power in a newly industrial city.

Transportation and people began to become more used around this time, also showing progression in the city.

Charles Scheeler

Episode looks at the work of artist/photographer. Political and social investigations on the occasion of the introduction of the new Ford Model A. Sheeler was commissioned to photograph the plant in Dearborn, Michigan as part of a larger $1.3 million advertising campaign.



Repetitive movements allowed the people operating the system to become almost a part of the machinery. Without people this mass-made production wouldn't of been achievable. 

They work all day for an employer, by buying the product back once earned, for example, like when buying a car, as seen above.


Coined by Antonio Gramsci in his essay "Americanism and Fordism” of 1934
Production line:

Sought to gain maximum productivity with minimum effort through repetitive mechanical action
Cycle of mass production and mass consumption- in this case cars
"the eponymous manufacturing system designed to spew out standardized, low-cost goods and afford its workers decent
enough wages to buy them” (De Grazia: 2005:4)

Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin 1936)
Wrote directed and starred in Modern Times portrays Chaplin as a factory worker, employed on an assembly line. After being subjected to such indignities as being force-fed by a "modern" feeding machine and an accelerating assembly line where Chaplin screws nuts at an ever-increasing rate onto pieces of machinery, he suffers a mental breakdown that causes him to run amok throwing the factory into chaos.


Gets accussed of being a communist, goes to jail, meets a girl, ends up working as a waiter ends up performing a kind of
pantomime which is a hit and saves the day for the two of them.

'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 - 1929

Destruction of the american dream, especially those in rural areas. This led to the great depression.


Man with a movie camera (1929)

Russian silent documentary film, with no story and no actors, by Russian director Dziga Vertov, edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova. Accompanied by live music originally many contemporary versions of the soundtrack have been recorded his film is famous for the range of cinematic techniques Vertov invents, deploys or develops, such as double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, footage played backwards, stop motion animations and a self-reflexive style (at one point it features a split screen tracking shot; the sides have opposite Dutch angles). Vertov strove to create a futuristic city that would serve as a commentary on existing ideals in the Soviet world. This imagined city’s purpose was to awaken the Soviet citizen through truth and to ultimately bring about understanding and action. Celebrates industrialisation mechanisation transport communication.  The camera has access to intimate moments bed/birth as well as public street life.  World peopled by mannequins.


Flaneur

The city described through literature. A bourgeois literary figure. 

Someone who walks around the city taking it, from a removed point of view, due to class and position. This is unlike the workers previously mentioned.

Someone who walks the ity in order to experience it.

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 flânerwhich means "to stroll".


Walter Benjamin adopts the concept of the urban observer as an analytical tool and as a lifestyle as seen in ths writings. His final book the Arcades Project (1027-40) was about Parisian life in the 19th Century. This can always be seen as creating a better harmony between the human and the city.

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)

More fashion photography, than of observing people in the city.


Daido Moriyama (1970s) Shinjuku district of Tokyo.


Response to the Americanisation of Tokyo. Influenced by William Klein's work.


Direct reference to Klein
Tate Modern: Exhibition
10 October 2012 – 20 January 2013

Flaneuse

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 fleeting, anonymous, ephemeral encounters of life in the metropolis, mainly
accounts for the experiences of men. It ignores the concomitant separation of public and private spheres from the mid
nineteenth century, and the increasing segregation of the sexes around that separation. The influential writings of
Baudelaire, Simmel, Benjamin and, more recently, Richard Sennett and Marshall Berman, by equating the modern with
the public, thus fail to describe women's experience of modernity. The central figure of the flâneur in the literature of
modernity can only be male. What is required, therefore, is a feminist sociology of modernity to supplement these texts."

Stating that the flaneuse is usually a male figure opposed to a female figure.

Susan buck-Morris, suggests that only a woman on the street can be either a protitute or a bag lady.




Story attached to this snapshot, creating a dark silhouette around the figure. Gives the impression of reflection and
implication of darkness.


‘For months I followed strangers in the street. For the pleasure of following them, not because they particularly interested
me. I photographed them without their knowledge, took note of their movements, then finally lost sight of them and
forgot them.

At the end of January 1980, on the streets of Paris, I followed a man whom I lost sight of a few minutes later in the crowd.
That very evening, by chance, he was introduced to me at an opening. During the course of our conversation, he told me
he was planning an imminent trip to Venice.’ Frieze magazine.

She then instigated a trip to Venice without him knowing to see how the flaneur position is investigated when the roles 
are reversed between men and women. Women become the stalker, whilst men become the object.


Couple go to Venice to recover after the loss of a child.  The woman is haunted by a figure in  a red 
cape that darts through the city.
Issues of memories and  grief trauma.
Plays with time.
Mixed up identity.

Venice is portrayed as a maze and of not knowing fantasy and reality whilst focusing on time and
reality. 

Observation through Reverse Roles:



Detective (1980), consisted of Calle being followed for a day by a private detective, who had been hired (at Calle's
request) by her mother. Calle proceeded to lead the unwitting detective around parts of Paris that were particularly
important for her, thereby reversing the expected position of the observed subject. Such projects, with their suggestions
of intimacy, also questioned the role of the spectator, with viewers often feeling a sense of unease as they became the
unwitting collaborators in these violations of privacy. Moreover, the deliberately constructed and thus in one sense
artificial nature of the documentary ‘evidence' used in Calle's work questioned the nature of all truths. Tate.org.


Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Stills (1977-80)



Woman is lost, threatened by the street. Trapped- presence absence.
Film noir stereotype.

Below shows an image taken from 9/11. It shows the reactions of the viewer with an uncanny resemblance to Cindy
Shermans film stills.


Weegee:

Weegee worked in the Lower East Side of New York City as a press photographer during the 1930s and '40s, and he
developed his signature style by following the city's emergency services and documenting their activitynickname,
a phonetic rendering of Ouija, because of his frequent, seemingly prescient arrivals at scenes only minutes after crimes,
fires or other emergencies were reported to authorities.

Originally from the Ukraine Weegee developed his photographs in a homemade darkroom in the back of his car
n 1938, Fellig was the only New York newspaper reporter with a permit to have a portable police-band shortwave radio.



Based on a story by Malvin Wald, The Naked City portrays the police investigation that follows the murder of a young model. A veteran cop is placed in charge of the case and he sets about, with the help of other beat cops and detectives, finding the girl's killer. The Naked City producer Mark Hellinger's voice was used for the film's narration. Hellinger died of a sudden heart attack after a preview of the movie. The film was the inspiration for the 1958-63 TV series Naked City and its closing tag line, "There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.”

Film Noir documentary style


As the game player there is the option to change the story line, with how the characters are played.

L.A. Noire is set in Los Angeles in 1947 and challenges the player, controlling a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective, to solve a range of cases across five crime desks. Players must investigate crime scenes for clues, follow up leads, and interrogate suspects, and the players' success at these activities will impact how much of the cases' stories are revealed.

As the title suggests, the game draws heavily from both plot and aesthetic elements of film noir – stylistic films from the 1940s and 1950s that shared similar visual styles and themes including crime, sex, and moral ambiguity and were often shot in black and white with harsh, low-key lighting. The game uses a distinctive colouring-style in homage to the visual style of film noir, including the option to play the game in black-and-white. The post-war setting is the backdrop for plot elements that reference the detective films of the '40s (as well as James Ellroy's novel L.A. Confidential and the Curtis Hanson film based on it), such as corruption and drugs, with a jazz soundtrack. L.A. Noire is also notable for using Lightsprint's real-time global illumination technology, as well as Depth Analysis's newly developed technology for the film and video game industries called MotionScan, 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 are lying or not.

L.A. Noire is the first video game to be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival. Upon release, the game received critical acclaim.


Metropolis:

The idea of the city becoming more modern and 'out there'.


With the improvements to the city and the changed view point of the public, when photos are captured there is an
illumination of loneliness of the city and the crowd. 

Lorca di Corcia, Heads, NY, 2001


His photographs would then give a sense of heightened drama to the passers-by accidental poses, unintended movements



and insignificant facial expressions. Even if sometimes the subject appears to be completely detached to the world
around him, diCorcia has often used the city of the subject's name as the title of the photo, placing the passers-by back
into the city's anonymity.

Lack of privacy in a pubic place:

Post Modern City:
Fredrick jameson Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism Verso, 1991

A see-er who is seen but unseen at the same time. Contrasted with Sullivan's buildings we receive an image of disorder
rather than order. 


Post Modern City in Photographs

No specific focal point, busy, colourful, shown advertising and doesn't give an impression of what would happen to you
in this city when emerging from the tube station. There is a level of detail, with individual perception of how we relate to
the image.



9/11: The end of the flaneur?

With the recorded event significantly and almost endlessly, through video and journalism, the idea of the city and the
observer become one with the collapse of the building and chaos.

The sky scraper represented the sky scraper up until 2001, when the twin towers fell and marked the end of this era.


The destruction of the skyscaper, in the Twin Towers is the destruction of the American Dream as Andrew Grahame
Dixon figured earlier. 

Where issues of the body the city the built environment the man of the crowd the stranger/immigrant collide
catastrophically.

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 aquires 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”?

The end of photography capturing an event with justice:


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).

Since 9/11 surveillance in cities has risen drastically and now most, if not all cities and towns etc, are under continuous
CCTV.


Further Research:

Cityscapes of modernity: critical explorations  By David Frisby

Art of America: Modern Dreams (2/3) Andrew Grahame Dixon BBC 4 21/11/11

De Grazia, Victoria (2005), Irresistible Empire: America's Advance Through 20th-Century Europe, Cambridge: Belknap
Press of Harvard University Press

Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (1989)

Grahame Clarke (1997) The Photograph, Chapter 5 The city in photography http://hereisnewyork.org/

Art in the Age of Terrorism, Terrible Beauties, Bernadette Buckley, (2005)

Richard Sennet The Fall of Public Man (1974) http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/feb/17/mi5-spied-on-charlie-chaplin

The Uncanny Familiar (2011) Essays on 9/11

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