14 Projected Cities - contents introduction 1 2 3 4 the...

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contents introduction 7 1 the origins of the film city 13 2 urban space in european cinema 61 3j apan: the image of the city 107 4 the digital city and cinema 155 references 197 acknowledgements 199 index 200
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1 the origins of the film city Film began with a scattering of gesturing ghosts, of human bodies walking city streets, within the encompassing outlines of bridges, hotels and warehouses, under polluted industrial skies. The first incendiary spark of the film image – extending across almost every country in the world, around the end of the nine- teenth century – propelled forward a history of the body that remains inescapably locked into the history of the city. The film city forms an entangled matter of image and language, of life and death. It incessantly takes on and discards its multiple figures and manifestations, and, through to its last monochrome nuance or lurid pixel, its vital axis lies in contradiction – every one of the aims and strategies of the film city’s innumerable directors has been contested and refused, from the first moments of cinematic imagery. The film city’s texture comprises an unsteady amalgam of sexual and corporeal traces, of illuminations and darknesses, of architectural ambitions and their cancellation, and of sudden movements between revolution and stasis. As a result, the film city is containable only in an open book of death and
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origins, constructed from urban fragments that slip into freefall – in the hidden cracks in celluloid and digital images – so as to conjure the aberrant code of language which can itself perversely originate the essential visual compulsions and sensations of the projected or destroyed film city. The passage from the photographic to the filmic to the digital image carries its own aberrance and contradictory reversals, which annul any sense of a linear history of cinema. The film image defined itself throughout its early decades via the construction of an aura of originality and uniqueness – in the form of irreplicable visual projections of human and urban forms, often in grandiose combat with one another – but the industrial medium of cinema intractably based itself instead on principles of infinite reproduction: of celluloid film prints, of cinema audiences and even of film-narrative forms. The digital image (as the definitive technological real- ization of this desire for endless reproduction) in effect careers backwards in film history, into the time zone before that of cinema’s original images, since the digital image’s instantly redundant forms – surpassed and eroded by the incessantly mutating corporate demands that engender them – possess a fundamental and extreme archaism. And, in its multiple births and rebirths, cinema’s history ultimately conveys a harsh and conflictual set of beginnings to its film cities. The digital image of the city lacks entirely the raw irregularities through which the original film images of urban life sustained their crucial force of respiration. Cinema history itself was born in negation and cancellation, both of 14
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This note was uploaded on 07/27/2010 for the course ARCH 4040 taught by Professor Mical during the Spring '10 term at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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14 Projected Cities - contents introduction 1 2 3 4 the...

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