January 29 2013

Unplanned Cinema – metropolis, circulation and method

This workshop centers on three intertwined histories – the cinema, capitalism, and the metropolis – to argue how the same problem structures all three: namely, how can the past, the frozen, the negated, and the accumulated be made to produce anew? And what does that generation leave behind? More prosaically, we will confront the issue of circulation as a way to give an account of economic forms, cultural forms, and the possible, though obscure and unassured, bond between the two. Even more simply, we’ll try to figure out, amongst other things, what the history of the action movie chase scene has to do with the history of city planning. In the workshop, we’ll do two main things: consider an argument together and develop methods of unconventional watching. First, we’ll work through a different approach to thinking about that well-established link between the metropolis and cinema, leaving behind more familiar accounts, such as how the cinema provides reflection on the shocks of experience and spatial dislocation during urbanization. Instead, reading both metropolis and cinema as forms of the generative tension between the static and the animated, we’ll see how the city – the advanced form of capital’s structure of circulation – finds expression in the cinema – the advanced form of reflection on and elaboration of that form – but, crucially, not because a film may take place in a city. The second thing we will do, in order to look at this tension and relation is to closely watch films. More specifically, we will watch not films as individual texts to be decoded but as sets of passages and tendencies, moments in a scattered history of social and spatial experience. For this reason, we’ll consider a set of fragments, genres, recurrent moments, and landscape. The stress will be on developing a method of watching adequate to this emphasis on circulation and style, a method that will attempt to denaturalize the temporal and narrative habits we have: fast-forward, watch out of order, takes films as collections of stills, slow things down until we can see them not as reflections on a life but elaborations what has been hiding in plain view.

part 1

part 2