Cincetta to Thin Cities

Blue sky above metal structures wrapped with strips of reflective material at the edge of a plastic-lined depression

Image capture from Google Earth by John Zissovici.

  • Instructor: John Zissovici
  • Time: R 10:10 a.m.–12:05 p.m.
  • Location: 144 E. Sibley Hall
  • Credits: 3
  • Territory of Investigation: Architecture and Representation, Architecture and Urbanism

Today's vast online repository of navigable urban imagescapes, the result of the rapidly evolving and proliferating digital imaging and mapping technologies, are the descendants of Cinecitta's and Hollywood's studio lots, the cheaply constructed simulations of towns and cities built by carpenters for the camera's view. Our ever-expanding virtual image world, a continuous three-dimensional surface sourced and automatically assembled from innumerable points, will be the site and subject of the films made about cities in the course.

Dziga Vertov's 1929 "Man with a Movie Camera" was the first film to fully examine and celebrate the shared destinies of the urban and the cinematic. The same mechanisms of industrialization that created the new modes of mass transportation that powered the 20th-century city, were at work in the production and distribution of films. Cinema was the means for capturing the speed and dynamism of urban life, which in turn demanded a new mechanical vision, the Kino-Eye. For Vertov, the city itself was the site and subject of the film.

Students will propose new cinematic visions for the 21st century mediated city by examining the imaging technologies that make possible the assembly of these virtual cities. They will also reconceptualize the relation between still and moving images and the unique temporality of the 21st-century city. By investigating why, by, and for whom these images were made, the videos will examine our relationship to the ever-expanding universe of images.

The class will entail readings on contemporary cinema and media theory, film viewings, and the making of short moving pictures. The final project will be a three- to six-minute video.

Instructor permission required:

Students from any college or department, 2nd year and above. Preference will be given to upper-class students

View a PDF of this class description.


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