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OUGD501 - Lecture 4 - Cities and Film

Contents of lecture:

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 Metropolis and Mental Life in 1903
Influences critical theory of the Frankfurt School thinkers eg: Walter Benjamin, Kracauer, Adorno and Horkheimer

Dresden Exhibition 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
(Herbert Bayer Lonely Metropolitan 1932)

Urban Psychology
the resistance of the individual to being levelled, swallowed up in the social-technological mechanism.
— Georg Simmel The Metropolis and Mental Life 1903
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 Scott store in Chicago (1904)
Skyscrapers represent the upwardly mobile city of business opportunity
Fire cleared buildings in Chicago in 1871 and made way for Louis Sullivan new aspirational buildings
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 standardized, low-cost goods and afford its workers decent enough wages to buy them” (De Grazia: 2005:4)
'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 dramatically
Leads to “the Great Depression”
Margaret Bourke-White
he 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 analytical tool and as a lifestyle as seen in his writings
(Arcades Project, 1927–40), Benjamin’s final, incomplete book about Parisian city life in the 19th century
Berlin Chronicle/Berlin Childhood (memoirs)
Photographer as flaneur
The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, 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)
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.
Susan Buck-Morss,

The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (Cambridge, Mass.)
 in this text suggests that the only figure a woman on the street can be is either a prostitute or a bag lady
City as a labyrinth of streets and alleyways in which you can get lost but at the same time will always end up back where you begin
Don’t look Now (1973) Nicholas Roeg
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
LA Noire (2011)
the first video game to be shown at the Tribecca Film Festival
Incorporates “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.
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]mendment protection 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."
9/11 Citizen journalism: the end of the flaneur?
Liz Wells says that phrase is first seen in an article 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 automation 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 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”?

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