The Labyrinthine City

In todays lecture we discussed the difference between the everyday and the spectacle in relation to the city. How the city operates and how film and photography relate to it.
We all experience the city in different ways, some days we can feel alienated from it; this I can relate to as my first ever project when coming to university was how I felt alienated in London compared to back home (Lincolnshire), however sometimes we can feel completely at ease with it and have a sense of belonging.

Paul Citroen, Metropolis, 1923

Photomontage/montage can represent the fragmented nature of urban experience. It is a particularly important method for presenting photography as it is usually used as a source to show what the world looks like montage ‘…can represent the world as a network of related elements, sometimes unresolved or contradictory.’ (Highmore 2002: 94).

We can also think of the everyday in relation to time, we were asked in during the lecture whether we would remember this day? I probably won’t, it will just become another day, nothing special has happened, it’s just like every other. Newspapers however have to deal with every single day and find a front page story for hundreds of thousands of people to read.

The methodologies on urban theory such as the Situationalists wanted to achieve an overturn of the established cultural and political practices and develop a new kind of urbanism. Pyscho-geography was the combination of psychology and geography, such work by Robert Frank and his series The Americans (1958) and Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places (1982) and also American Surfaces (1972) can be analysed as pyscho-geography. Such projects tend to assert: journey, topography, pursuit, network, political systems or horizontal mapping.

It is our internal monologue which punctuates the mundane tasks of everyday life, this makes them personal to us as our mind is able to wander while we do ordinary tasks such as brushing our teeth or doing laundry. This is what Sigmund Freud is interested in – how our unconscious impacts our everyday lives. He suggests that sometimes we are not consciously aware of what our unconscious wants, for example misplacing something, it could be your unconscious making the decision and technically you lost it on purpose.
We tend to moderate the way we talk and act in front of different people, you perhaps wouldn’t act the same way in front of your boss as you would a friend. When it comes to analysing images I’m not sure the camera could actually capture this experience.

We also discussed Charles Baudelaire and his complaints in his essay ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ on how painters want to ‘dress their subjects in the garments of the past’ as every age has different gestures and so they should be updated so. This is relevant to photography is that poses are always changing and also how we interact with the world. Same as technology the photography world is always trying to do something new and exciting rather than constantly taking inspiration from the past (although it does still have a big influence.

Overall I have learnt that they’re are lots of different ways to describe the city in terms of the everyday and the spectacle in relation to photography. I found the essential reading (Tormey, J. Cities and Photography, 2013) very interesting and informative.



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