Lecture by Carina Lesky at the 41st Conference oft he Austrian Association of American Studies (AAAS) “Space Oddities. Urbanity, American Identity, and Cultural Exchange”.
For his work “In the Way” (2011) Michael Snow projected driving shots of pavements, pebble paths and shrubbery onto the smooth floor of Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City. The altering pace of the stuttering moving images evoked dizziness in the visitors, who were casting their shadows over the projected space merging with the scenery (Bellenbaum 115). By cinematically transcending the dichotomy of inside and outside, “In the Way” recalls the traditionally close relationship of film and the street.
From its very beginnings film absorbed the movement of the masses, the traffic and the whole ambience of city streets to transport them into movie houses, theatres and later living rooms. Vice-versa, the presence of hand-held cameras – first photography, later film tightened the issue – in the city together with the keen interest of the photographers and filmmakers in everyday life altered the perception of the city as well as the social interactions in its streets, alleys and public spaces. Suddenly passersby felt observed in the streets, exposed to the risk of being shot and preserved on celluloid (Nead 84). In the form of public screenings and facade projections, currently the medium is again stepping very literally into the urban context. There it merges and interacts with the urban substance and everyday street life affecting the subjective perception of the city.
This paper aims at investigating the interaction of film and the street. It discusses different roles of the moving image within urban debates and practices, especially in relation to the issue of public space. How does the cinematic experience relate to public space and everyday city life? Which role does the moving image take in the contemporary city street? In what ways has it affected public space and altered the semantic structure of the city?
Bellenbaum, Rainer. Kinematografisches Handeln. Von den Filmavantgarden zum Ausstellungsfilm. Berlin: b_books, 2013.
Nead, Lynda. Animating the Everyday: London on Camera circa 1900. Journal of British Studies 43 (January 2004), S. 64-90, S. 65.