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SCIFI IN REEL ARCHITECTURE: Design of Cities in Science Fiction Films Research Proposal

Rachelle Ann F. Samson 04-08996

ABSTRACT The representation of the city has been a major aesthetic content in the industry of film. Different views of space and time converges, intermingles and constantly collides onto each other in the adaptable terrain of the screen with which audiences have been thoroughly enamored since the invention of the film medium. Architecture and cinema have played significant roles in the formation of spaces and in the understanding of these spaces. The relationship between these two mediums of visuality and visibility in a way elicits changes in the fostered perception of society; the depth of values interpreted, the diversity of culture tolerated, the authenticity and artificiality of memory embedded in film content of various film genres, these have all affected the philosophy of living in the 20th century.

As it is too complex to intensively explore all avenues of film genres and its relation to the architecture of the city, I have pondered to focus upon the profound esthetic spectacle of science fiction films portrayal of the city, the effect of this specific film genre in the design concepts of contemporary architectural thoughts, and more importantly the discourse on how the architectural and urban representations of the city in Sci-Fi films influence peoples view of (post)modern urban life, the ideas of place-making in the context of the cityscape, and the engaging discursive speculation on which plateau, the future city of man might be built.


Introduction Statement of the problem Significance of the Study Scope and Delimitation Review of Related literature Methodology Bibliography

INTRODUCTION Sci-Fi Films, Sci-Fi Architecture, and the City in between The city is a painstaking anthology of thought and memory; entrenched in visual, aural, textural symbolic rapport with which people communicate, and in which people move. These multiple characteristics of the city give it the essentiality of a created real or imaginary environment as well a morphological entity understood to fluctuate and evolve in form and in substance. It is both a thing of meaning in itself and a setting for which meanings are formed and grasped. To frame the definition of the city in this aspect, with its relationship to Sci-Fi films and contemporary architecture, is to find its emergence and value in both artistic modes. In its nature science fiction films have been regarded as spectacle films, sharing under the same division of historical spectacles and musical spectacles. A primary characteristic of spectacle films is its form of esthetic cinema and elaborate visual effect and imagery. In Sci-Fi films, other-worldly environments are simulated and effectively rendered real to serve as settings for the narratives of the films. This creative facet of space experimentation and place invention share similar values in the design of actual buildings and landscapes. Thus the emergence of various branches of contemporary architecture concerning science fiction concepts and utilization of new technologies: Cyber Architecture, High-Tech Architecture, Science-Fiction

Architecture are some of the popular terms which permeated the present atmosphere of design and building. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM The study wishes to address the relationship of film and architecture to the representation of the city as an urban environment, particularly the genre of sci-fi films in relation to contemporary architectural thoughts and design.

How is the city portrayed in Sci-fi films? What are the representations of the city in Sci-fi films? What parallel nature does architecture share with the film medium that influences peoples perception of cities? How does the relationship between Sci-fi cinema and architecture evolve through time?

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY The significance of the study is for the knowledge with which architectural design and concepts could develop and improve. Exploring the ties between architecture and sci-fi films broadens the understanding of cultural history involved in both mediums of art. The study deepens the relationship between film and architecture as well as several theories have been facilitated to explore this relation in the past. The study delves into the sociological impacts with which people understand urban experiences through film and architecture. SCOPE AND DELIMINATION The project focuses on the representations of the specific film genre of science fiction a in the progression of contemporary architectural thought throughout the decades, the relationship of science fiction film and architecture in our society in the past and today, as well as the views with which urban environments, such as the city, is perceived through the medium of science fiction film and architecture.

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE I. Reality/Imaginary Embedded on Screen Of souvenirs, corpses, and memory Shoot to Kill the same concept works in photography, the simple actions of pointing, shooting, killing. This is the weight of captivation, a kind of symbolic exchange between the subject and the object, between capturing a piece of life and taking a hold of death. The process takes place in frozen time, encapsulated from beginning to end, the

objectification of the moment of death.(Shields) The gaze then is a powerful device, scanning through various landscapes and random scenes, and in trying to commit them to memory requires an insistence on an instance of death in the guise of a still shot, of a recording. An author once commented on this as a revealing paradox of our contemporary experience in the urban world, of how we keep souvenirs of our cities as our places of occurrence, as settings of our lives. She argued that contemporary melancholia is capable of transforming nostalgic remains into souvenirs. The photographic gaze is then characterized to be deadly, the photographic shooting kills not the body but the life of things, leaving only representational carcasses. (Olalquiaga) But this is not to say that we kill our cities in our attempt to represent it on a visual plane, we simply demand to immortalize our concept of it in lieu of our everchanging world. What we demand of it is memory. As cinema and architecture are both public arts that derive life from the city, the city exists as a kind of locus, a repository of memory, of diverse cultures that feed on each others hunger, on each others meaning. In trying to represent the nature of the city in films and in architecture, different theories of space are established; each posits an understanding on how people perceive the city even in contrasting contexts. The Poetics of Space in Cinema One way of understanding the representational nature of cinema is through the junction of two kinds of spaces, the real or material space and the representational space. The real denotes the actual place depicted in the image of the film, portraying the actual geography or location of shooting used in the film. The representational space refers to the place the film imparts to the perception of the viewer, which can be imaginary or real in itself; this space is interwoven into the narrative content of the film. A make-believe landscape can be rendered real to the mind of the viewer while an actual place can be conceived unreal to the through the use of context in the film. This suggests that the two spaces are mutually inclusive of each other: one does not exist without the other. (Lukinbeal) Like the relationship of things and thought to each other, the two tends to converge, reality contaminates representation and representation saturates reality. With the intersection of the real and the representational, a third space comes into involvement in the viewing of films. The nature of this third space can be alluded to

Lefebvres concept of the third space, which he characterizes to be both lived and imaginary. It is the swelling, the node of which two worlds collide into each other, a dialogical field created through the tension of two opposing matters; this complicates the experience of spatiality and the reading of films as texts because meaning is then deemed to reside in the tension of the encounter. The third space is not a synthesis however but a brush off point: two planes stirring at opposite directions meet at a focal spot then travels past each other after an interlocking gaze that allows for both components to remain detach while also becoming something else in the space of interaction. Cinema renders a kind of space that seeks to disturb the apparent distance between viewer and work. This interrelation of spaces reveals hidden aspects of spatiality Foucault deeply explored: The space of our perception, the space of our dreams and that of our passions hold within themselves qualities that seem intrinsic: there is light, ethereal, transparent space, or again a dark, rough, encumbered space; a space from above, of summits, or on the contrary a space from below of mud; or again a space that can be flowing like sparkling water, or space that is fixed, congealed, like stone or crystal. The reimagining of our world, the imagining of different worlds apart from our, comes as the fascinating power imbued in cinema. Thus cinematic experience provides conspicuous stimuli for the play of potentiality, the play between the individual (viewer and film character) and the environment (film as subject-object, viewing experience, the history brought into it), a distinct bliss response. The cultural experience is the play referred to by Winnicott; the conceding platform where the individual is free to assert meanings, feelings, and inner-trappings that transforms the viewing experience, the electricity that negotiates the Hybridity of different spaces: physical, mental, social. For there is a sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction, in the beyond; an exploratory, restless movement caught so well in the French rendition of the words audela, here and there, and fort/ the back and forthBeing in the beyond then is to inhabit an intervening space to touch the future on the hither sidea space of intervention in the here and now. (Bhabha)

II. The Notion of The City: The City in Notion

A. City in Depth

Representations blanket the city, changing the way it appears to us. (Shields) The city is a representation in itself, a self-evident classification of a certain environment to be posited as a city asserts the role of the nature of it as both an idea and a thing. An idea defined as a general model of urban conglomeration and social centrality. A thing imbibed as a real-life arrangement of materials and constructions of social relationships. (Benjamin, De Certeau) It is not only the subject of representations but it also plays the role of the object in representations. The construction of representations of the city is a necessity device for its analysis and replay. Representations help expose specific natures of the city both as an abstract idea and a concrete material. It can be governed by social spatialisations, the influence of the society which built it, the material culture it promulgates, and most importantly the people who experience it. But representations of the city can also be treacherous in nature, for in trying to frame the image of the city, the tendency to focus on certain aspects results in negligence of other equally relevant characteristics. This results in our hindered, incomplete view and influences the courses of actions we pursue in effort of perceiving meanings and symbols. The city is never all-knowable, we may be see certain aspects of it and thoroughly miss the other beyond our peripheral. Another fault in the representations of the city is the propensity of reification, the phenomenon of treating representations as natural objects, of losing thought in our role of forming them in the first place, the complete displacement of the city ensuing in a simulacrum that presents itself as reality. Walking through the streets: tracing individual footsteps The concept of Flanerie in junction of the city can be conceived as the absolute experience of all spaces and all stimulations attuned to the life of the city. The flaneur is the street prowler, the urban denizen, that walks through the arteries of the metropolis drifting randomly in the landscape of chance encounters and sensibilities. The method of the flaneur can be compared to the voyeuristic act of cyber-browsing and digital scrolling, its modern-day counterpart. This act of vulgar exploration like vivid synesthesia, is a spontaneous phenomenon experienced by all who moves within the city.

the perception whether of belonging or un-belonging in a place, the disorientation or the purposefulness of individual footsteps, all these are symptoms of the effect the city imparts to people which is one of the fascination of the cinema, to capture the city in motion.
B. Dualisms of City Images

The city can be represented through polarities of thoughts, facilitating the rhetorical method elaborated by Derrida in trying to substantiate the hierarchical world views of meaning through binary oppositions, giving less value to the second term. This process of deconstruction devised the concept of diffrance which stands as a symbiotic relationship between two figures.

Metaphorizations in reading the images of the city disclose the relationships between the public and the private quality of its spaces, the unofficial and the official texts it presents. The public and private discourse can also be conceived in terms of stereotypical genderization of the spaces, the domestic sphere characterized by passivity and the public sphere as dominant spaces, the separation of home life to street life. In terms of the official and unofficial readings of the city, the conflict lies in the perception of invisible aspects of the city which the visible prevents from disclosure. The invisible pertains to that which is unrepresented, the dark silences of urban construction, the other.(Spivak) The space of the other can be typified as the space created by corporate culture in the economic sense, which is devalued, downgraded, constituted by social and physical decay. (Sassen)

C. Beyond Dualisms

As dualisms have the disadvantage of stressing traditional hierarchical views on the city, operating naively on two contradictory systems of thoughts, the method is deemed to the closure of texts and finality of meaning. In order fro dualisms to function in a more satisfactory manner, they need to be reinforced by spatial settings

of time and place providing situation and context to the representations. Other methods of representing the city are then relevant to be explored.

Dialogisms are contradictory elements locked in permanently non-resolving arrangements. Bakhtin, a literary theorist elaborated this method of contradictory discourse aiming to analyze texts also in context of historical and social forces surrounding the relationship of the reader and the work. He invented the term chronotope to pertain to the treatment of time and place characteristic of a literary genre. Geographers and social theorists further explored this relationship into the concept of chronotopography which constitute the analysis of time and space of a given mode of production or of colonialism. The emphasis established into the otherdirectedness of representation and communication. Here the socio-cultural factors which undermine symbolic codes and representations are positioned to describe empirical reality with the temporal and spatial characteristic of cultures which cross between real and represented. The move towards the representation of a lived city of hybrid forms, irresolvable tensions and paradox echoes the symptoms of Foucaults possibility of heterotopia:

The heterotopia is capable of juxtaposing in a single place several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible.

This representation of the city extends our perception to incorporate the linkages and routes beyond the city itself. The emphasis on time and space characteristics elicits a consciousness of being, it is more than mine, here and now but also theirs, then and there. (Shields)

Another inventive mode in representing the city is the Situationist model, where the weight revolves around the idea of bringing the private desires into the public realm, the focus that people lived by drifting from area to area, activity to activity depending on their moods rather than being regulated by instrumental rationality. This radical view disrupts the concepts of the modern city and posits the image of a new

experimental city where the continuous driv is characterized as the drifting and drawing of people by chance attractions and encounters in the urban landscape. This concept of Psychogeography evolves the model of an emotional city, the city of desires. This also echoes the idea of flanrie discussed before.

The city can also be understood at the ontological level of which it exists, understood by their powers, their surfaces, and their effects all in one material level without treating it as layers and layers of complexity that needed to be dissected. This eliminates the problem of further dissection upon encounters of every new layer and focuses on the undivided, undissected city which is a complex surface of play, interactions, and behaviors, thus situating the visual on the same epistemological plane as the tactile. This is the representation of the city that Deleuze proposes in his concept of the city as a body without organs.

Thus all this alternative perceptions of the city: the dialogical, lived city, the emotional city drifting through desires, the city as a body without organs, comes to the understanding of the representation of a trans-discursive city of our contemporary sensibilities. It characterizes a model closer to reality and to the essence of the urban because they are motor representations, directed by movement and flows of people across space rather than a fixed representation of the urban. The trans-discursive city is governed by internal multiplicity, by contradictions, and by synthesis allowing parallel conflicting representations to exists within it. It allows for a new imaginary to take shape within it, to be formed among and in between all the potential spaces of play interrelating in the system.

All these representation of the city are captured in the medium of cinema and in architecture. these images of the city inspires the representation of society in films helping viewers derive an understanding of culture and of life.


Science Fiction Construction

Sci-Fi Cinema: From cheap thrills to high-tech CGI

As I have focused first deliberately on the city and its evolution in representations in film and architecture, I will now narrow down the scope of films and architecture, concentrating primarily on the science fiction genre of film and the images of the city depicted in them. The science fiction genre has no precise definition in literature and film, but instead is characterized by a broad genre of fiction that mainly deals with science and technology and its influences, possible or probable, into our societies and the world in general.

Science fiction is generally considered to attempt an extrapolation into the future of known concepts of science and technology. It embodies the subject matter of science and technology, the treatment of the work as sense of wonder and the recognition on the idea of inquiry into the nature of progress and the purpose of speculation about the unknown.

Common subjects for science fiction include the future, near and far, especially future societies better or worse than our own; travel through space or time; life on other planets; crises created by technology, or by alien creatures and environments; and the creation or destruction of worlds. Stories are generally characterized by radical changes from the present; large distances in space or long spans of time; and extreme, sometimes lurid imagery.

Science fiction as a genre have had to defend itself from the stereotypical view of it as in the 1920s, as stories that appeared in cheap, so-called pulp magazines, but science fiction now appears in all media, including motion pictures, staged dramas, television programs, and video games, as well as short stories and book-length works. Sci-fi film genre also suffered this prejudiced view as a cheap thrill in Hollywood during the 1950s when the film genre was only gaining mainstream ground. In the past twenty years, Hollywoods ever-increasing contribution to the genre has only reinforced the stereotype of the science fiction film existing for the sake of production values only, a

parade of visual effects and ever more absurd and grandiose sets where character development and solid narrative barely or no longer exist. The beginning of this downward spiral into a cinematic overdose of superficial stimulation at the expense of realism (at the core of production design is the paradox of achieving both stylization and realism, of exceeding the anthropomorphic limits of the human imagination while still attempting to remain comprehensible) and solid filmmaking is often traced back to 1977 and the rise of the blockbuster.

Before Hollywood realized the money making potential of the science fiction film and its ability to draw large audiences in search of pure escapism, the genre was able to attract talented directors (and still does, occasionally) who had a true interest in exploring the future of humankind or in using it as a means to express contemporary fears and problems. Like many of their literary counterparts, these directors were engaged in a process of discovery and showed a curiosity and thirst for knowledge which, in spite of a lack of a universally accepted definition for science fiction, form an essential characteristic of the genre. Drawing on the works of utopian science fiction literature, which has been in existence more or less officially since Thomas More wrote Utopia in 1516, these directors saw architecture and set design as a way to provide a realistic and accurate depiction of the future. As such, they also relied heavily on past or contemporary architectural and urban planning movements and visionaries. The country vs. city discourse has largely defined mans relationship to his environment and the city has proven a rich source of inspiration for both sociologists and architects. Its emergence has radically altered the landscape of our lands as well as the landscape of the human mind. It has and continues to have ramifications on the evolution of Man and how he perceives and structures his life and experiences. The city has become the perfect outlet for Mans imagination, his fears, his anxieties and his creativity.

Parallel Worlds Sci-Fi and Architecture

Like the connection between science fiction and production design, cinema and the architecture of the city have a long history of interdependence and of relying on one

another for inspiration and commentary. Throughout the twentieth century, architecture, the most public of the arts and film, the most popular, have done much to enhance and reinforce each others image. It is thus not surprising that the city would play such a prominent role in science fiction cinema. The city is the microcosm of humanity. The city of the future can encapsulate all facets of human interactions and sociological mechanisms. It enables the projection of our desires and worst fears, to visualize what is and what could be and the science fiction genre allows the relationship between a society and the buildings it creates and destroys to be conveyed vividly.

Various representation of the city is depicted in the rich and complex world of Sci-Fi films, from the rise of the city to the concepts of utopian societies and dystopic futures, this study is concerned with how science fiction cinema has used the city to architecturally represent the dreams and anxieties of the times during which these representations were filmed.

The Rise of the City

In Paul Citroens Metropolis (1923), while a photomontage, captured through images the beauty and anxieties of the modern metropolis. A visual representation of the ideas and concerns central to the work of the sociologists Georg Simmel and Walter Benjamin, it showed a mix of admiration and apprehension towards the rise of the city, an ambivalence that was quite common at a time when Modernism was being embraced by architects and urban planners both in Europe and America. Simmel spent most of his life in Berlin during a period when the city had started to fully and wholeheartedly embrace the forces of Modernism, and was able to witness first hand the sociological impact of the city on the previously mostly rural nature of the human mind. Among several theories he developed, many of which we today take for granted regarding life in the city, he argued that this new city lifestyle consisted of such fast-paced series of stimuli that it was in some ways no different from the cinematic experience, thereby providing an early and interesting link between cinema and city architecture.

Therefore, the rise of the city became a topic of much interest and fascination for the film industry. Films like King Vidors The Crowd (1928) and Murnaus Sunrise, a Song of Two Humans (1927) explored what was a gradual shift from rural to urban existence in the industrializing worldat the core of the city vs. country debate, offering mixed statements on the impact of this rise of the urban realm. While Modernism as an architectural and urban planning movement had been in progress since the mid 19th century (potentially even earlier depending on the definition of Modernism one uses), marked along the way by the birth of Art Nouveau and of the Modern Style in 1880, the city started feeling the full force of the movement towards the turn of the century. Thanks to the inventions of the steel frame and of the elevator, men could now build effigies that were as high as their ambitions. After its birth in Chicago, the skyscraper found the perfect setting in New York City and New York City found its raison detre in Modernism. With the city arose the concepts of the flaneur, the stranger, and the city boy. Society as we knew it was changing rapidly. The concept of Flanerie came into full existence thanks to Modernism but seems to have reached already into postmodernism in its reliance on the non-linear and discontinuous nature of the experience. While some sociologists started expressing their fears over the potential consequences of the rise of the new city, others embraced its potential. Urban planners, architects, designers, saw in Modernism the opportunity to shape the future and to improve current lifestyle standards. The work of Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Gropius signalled the beginning not only of a new architecture but also of a new way of living, one based on rationality, efficiency, hygiene, and more importantly, on hope for the future. German Neues Baues and Bauhaus, American Streamline, Soviet Constructivism, Italian Futurism, and the International Style, all embraced the future as a source of hope, a way to improve living conditions and society as a whole. Most architects of that period therefore believed that the moralities of Modernism should imply some vision of human betterment and demonstrated optimism for the future and grandeur of vision.

Cities of Hope

As science fiction cinema embraced the city and the possibilities it could bring for a better future. Cities of hope dominated the representations of the city in the science fiction texts of the 1920s and 1930s, reflecting a belief that the future was not the enemy but rather a potential savior for many of societys problems. For example, the Italian Futurists belief in motion and velocity, reflected in high-speed transportation networks and machines, can be felt in High Treason (1928), Britains response to Metropolis (1926). Hoping to replicate the ambitious vision and scope of Fritz Langs film, while focusing on the more straightforward and positive concept of peace, High Treason embraced modernity through an emphasis on transportation and connections available within the city and to the outside world. Perhaps drawing on Simmels research on bridges as well as on the designs of El Lissitzky, the Russian avant-guardist who influenced several of the constructivists and who saw strong parallels between evolution of Mans transport systems and architecture, the London of the future is a city reliant on a myriad of transportation methods and machines constantly buzzing at various height levels in the city. Sea, ground, air and every space in between seem to be occupied by a transport of some kind, a metaphor for the machine age and future city that will later become common place in science fiction cinematic representations.

Just Imagine (1930), strongly influenced by Hugh Ferrisss book, Metropolis of Tomorrow (1929), takes the archetype vision of the future city as defined by a Manhattan-like skyline, and portrays it in all its beauty and majesty. Ferris was Americas most celebrated architectural conjurer of ideal cities of the future and saw in the skyscraper city the ideal form of utopic betterment. As with High Treason, the city of Just Imagine is buzzing with activity, lights and motion. Cars are everywhere and walkways and bridges saturate the entire skyline. ]. Indeed, while its skyscrapers, some of which seem to grow on top of existing structures and buildings, reach high in the sky, the space and airy feel that exists inside the city reminds us that this is overall quite positive and optimistic in its outlook. Things to Come (1936) marks a major milestone in the history of science fiction cinema in that it provides its first true and sincere utopia (even if the destruction of

society has to take place for it to be reborn into a better one). Unfortunately, it is perhaps also the last time that we would see such unencumbered and affirmative outlook for the future. From then on, the genre would come to be dominated by dystopic or strongly anti-utopic visions. A remarkable aspect of Things to Come, the most expensive British film until that time, and a substantial contributor to its success (in the context of film history only since it achieved relatively poor commercial success), is the number of personalities and experts from the fields of architecture and design who contributed to the film. As such, one can detect in the many facets of the design of Things to Come various influences, and in some cases, direct contributions, from several masters of that time: Bel Geddes streamline concepts influenced the designs of the bombers and tanks as well as various shapes in the interior decoration; Fernand Leger, who had also worked on Linhumaine (1926), provided ideas for some of the costumes and concepts; much of the furniture and overall design style came from Oliver Hill; and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, the Hungarian-born designer who would go on to head the Bauhaus school of Architecture in Chicago, brought his skills to the design of some of the machinery and of various aspects of the underground city. But it is Le Corbusiers influence that provides the strongest link between the film and urban and architectural concepts of that time. Le Corbusiers ideas for the city of the future, his Ville Radieuse and Ville Contemporaine, while not directly represented, can nevertheless be felt in the abundance of glass, light and open space that is essential to the architecture of the city in Things to Come. In addition, every floor of the city (made possible through the use of pilotis) possesses hanging gardens, and each residence appears to have a view to the outside since the city is built directly into a hill, allowing for the merging of the city with nature. Le Corbusier had used these concepts considerably in his own designs to ensure that the inhabitant of this efficient, minimalist, clean and automated city can therefore feel suffused with LEsprit Nouveau as he looks out past pure white walls to the essential joys of light, space and greenery. This ideology and faith in a clean, organized and rational future was shared by many modernist architects of the time and would go on to dominate global architecture until the 1960s. But, increasingly, these visions of the future in both architecture and science fiction also began to be looked upon as naive, and in some cases, as dangerous

fantasies whose fascist (in its various forms, whether Nazi Germanys National Socialism or Wells Global economical-socialism) undertones could no longer hide within the established and dominant paradigms and ideologies of the early decades of the 20th century. Cities of Destruction Cities of hope made way for dystopic visions, closer to that envisioned by Fritz Lang already in 1926 with Metropolis. But while Lang was fascinated and saw beauty in the skyscraper and in its adopted home of Manhattan, his ultra modernist city of Metropolis was represented in truly expressionist style as dark, monstrous, rising to a sky where the elite lives while the people slave away in underground cave-like residence. The message was one of confusion, a mix of pro-capitalism and socialism, of pro-urban ideas but with a strong message of concern. The city definitively appeared grandiose but with the potential to annihilate the good in Man. New York, the most oldfashioned city in the world which had started as the emblem of the city of hope, would become the epitome of the dystopic future city, the symbol of a crowded, unhealthy, chaotic future, the emblem of urban dread, and, as it often became the norm throughout the 1950s, the ideal setting for destruction. It is interesting to note that few significant representations of the city appear in 1950s science fiction cinema, despite that decades reputation as the first Golden Age of science fiction. Indeed, while science fiction literature was experiencing a significant rise in popularity and credibility, post World War II science fiction cinema, mostly the realm of the American and British film industries, was in fact dominated mainly by invasion narratives, by the birth of the horror-science fiction hybrid and, last but not least, by the creature film. While modernism as an architectural movement continued to influence the development and design of cities throughout the world (among many projects was the development of Brazilia in 1956, following Lucio Costas highly modernist designs), it barely figured in the science fiction cinema of that time, which preferred, instead, to focus on small town America or England, where the problems of dehumanization, conformism and lack of free-will seemed to be more prevalent than in the city. In 1950s science fiction cinema, the city tends to be seen as a rational and open-minded

alternative to the backwardness and intolerance of the suburbs and countryside. Ironically, it is during that decade that urban planning lost much of the drive that had carried it throughout the 1930s and 1940s and that had allowed Lewis Mumford to state in 1938 in The Culture of Cities that This new age builds a better kind of city, the new city is organized to make cooperation possible between machines and man and nature. Concepts such as the Green Cities and New Towns, so popular in the aftermath of World War II, having slowly faded away from popular interest, the 1950s thus became a decade of ambivalence towards both the city and the suburbs. Both offered ground for critique, with science fiction cinema preferring to use suburbia as its main socio-cultural battlefield. The appearance of the city in science fiction cinema of the 1950s was most often in the creature films, offering the perfect backdrop for destruction, for a visual subversion of a familiar landscape, subverting our idea of power and stability into a playground for oversized monsters. These films made extensive use of the long shot, turning humans and the city into fragile and ephemeral entities. The creature films of the 1950s (and early 1960s as well) are less about horror and science than they are about the preservation of social order. In these films, the city, in addition to playing an important aesthetic and visual role, is thus aligned with a safeguarding of the status quo, a stronghold of order and civilization. It represents everything that man has been able to achieve until now, an ode to his power and genius, as well as the promise of human growth and the possibility of non-conformity. The aesthetics of destruction operate on several levels, from pure entertainment to sociological statements about a societys ability to deal with contemporary changes. Creature films of this era include: The Beast from 20000 Fathoms (1953), The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955). Cities of Lies Ambivalence towards the city grew throughout the 1950s. Perhaps still unsure as to whether the city was a friend or an enemy, or perhaps taking side in favour of urban development, many filmmakers shied away from powerful representations and preferred instead to direct their critique towards rural anaemia and parochialism. As the 1960s approached, a clear shift occurred, or rather, a development, in how the city would be

viewed. Cities of destruction made way to cities of lies as the naive belief in modernist ideology and in the city as an emblem of a better future crumbled under mounting evidence that science and technology not only seemed to be incapable of curing many of societys problems, but, also, was often responsible for them in the first place. During this period that changes in society and in the manner in which human beings began to define and to interact with their environment started being loosely grouped under the ever-slippery term of Post Modernism. Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) took the genre to a level of ambition (and financing) not seen in science fiction cinema since the 1920s and 1930s by insisting on an intensity of detail and realism rarely seen before in the genre. With his usual resolve towards perfection, Kubrick brought in experts from various fields to ensure that every aspect of the space adventure would be as close to reality as possible. With NASA having been engaged in a space race since the 1950s and about to land a man on the moon, Kubrick injected the science fiction genre with a much-needed dose of seriousness and status. A few years later, the subsequent failure of the Apollo programme which ironically followed the success of the moon landing, brought about serious changes in NASAs ambitions, funding, and ultimately, in the way people would look at space and science fiction. The naive idealism of earlier decades made way to a more pessimistic outlook and the desire to expand Americas frontier into space was replaced by a concern with more pressing problems facing society such as overpopulation and the increasingly deteriorating state of the environment. An Orwellian concern for the future became commonplace in literature and cinema, and dystopic and anti-utopic visions started to dominate both outlets for science fiction. Anti-utopias, which became increasingly popular throughout the 1970s and continued into the early 1980s, were dedicated to destroying any utopic pretensions. Cities of Dystopia Halfway through the decade, and in a manner consistent with the wave of rebellion that they helped bring about in the world of cinema, both Godard and Truffaut, visionaries in their own rights, felt the need to express visually their anxieties about the future. Their city is one filled with lies and deception where the idealism and fanatism of its rulers, scientists or politicians, have served to convince the population of something

that does not exist and to enslave it into a false reality. This dystopic vision of the future, the city of lies and smoke and mirrors, dominates the narratives of 1960s and 1970s science fiction cinema and has also remained consistently prominent since. Godards Alphaville (1965), shot on a very low budget in 1965 Paris, is the directors take on Orwells 1984, capitalism, modernism and the eradication of free will through rationality and efficiency. The city is turned into a cold, modernist island where buildings of glass and concrete stand as an effigy to science and dehumanization. Most of the scenes are shot in modernist interiors and exteriors, which could have been designed by Le Corbusier himself. But Godards vision turns the modernist dream upside down and associates the architecture with the end of free will and the disappearance of non-conformity. Unlike Langs vision of an ultra-modernist city of the future, with its skyscrapers reaching for the sky, Godards Alphaville is more spread out and few very tall buildings emerge. The elite continues to live in different areas of the city from the little people, but the boundaries are less clearly defined and the sense of height as an association of power seems to dominate less than in Metropolis or even Things to Come. A man of his time, Godard seems to have been able to anticipate postmodernist concerns towards architecture and the city. Truffauts Farhenheit 451 (1966), based on Bradburrys novel of the same name, and seems to exist outside of the standard city space. More reminiscent of a modern citys inner suburbs, the architecture on display is eclectic and often cold and lacking humanity. As with Alphaville, the low budget of Farhenheit 451 meant that all exterior scenes were shot on location (Maidenhead, UK). Truffaut evidently selected buildings that epitomized 1950s and 1960s urban planning gone wrong. The apartment block or tower no longer carries hope of an urban renaissance and as a solver of societys problems. Instead, it is portrayed as lacking beauty and humanity, a vertical cage in which to house the less privileged, and, in the context of the film, the non-conformists and dissidents. As with cinema, architecture had its share of rebels. Anti-establishment fantasy architects and groups such as Superstudio and Archigram led the way towards a reconsideration of modernist ideals and concepts in architecture, which they saw as obsolete, not attuned to the needs of modern society, and more importantly, as a symbol of a totalitarian and inhumane way of thinking about urban planning. Increasingly, the

ideas that had been at the core of the modernist architectural philosophy started being seen as exactly the type of urban planning that would make the future an unhealthy and inhumane place. This questioning led to a new type of architecture, a post-modernist approach to building, materials, and, inherently, to the handling of space. If space continued to influence some aspects of design in the 1960s, and modernist ideals continued until the end of that decade, the turn to the 1970s marked a definitive move away from the modernist city ideal. The great cities were no longer lands of opportunity; instead, they embodied the failure of the individuals dream with their poverty, civic corruption, racial unrest, civil disobedience, and violence. This description could very well apply to the London of Kubricks A Clockwork Orange (1971). Even though the film takes place in a not-too-distant future, London has been stripped of its identity and its iconography (in spite of actual locations having been used for the film), removing in the process any sense of history that we may attribute to the place. Here the alienation of the familiar makes way for a familiarization of an urban landscape of decay, the new reality of the darker side of cities. What is left is a cementbased post-modern pastiche of architectural fragmentation, subject to violence, anonymity, and coldness. The environment and overpopulation became topics of increasing relevance for sociologists and directors alike and are presented in films like Doomwatch (1972), Silent Running (1973) and Soylent Green (1973). This mixing of topographic and geographical elements can be characterized as a post-modern concern, something which Blade Runner (1982) would later exploit successfully. Once again, the population is tricked into believing in something that isnt, in a fake reality which only hides a more terrifying truth. THX 1138 (1971) depicts a world that has gone inside. Aside for the occasional glimpse of a city; life, at least for the workers and the common people, takes place in an underground world of blinding white tunnels and rooms. This sterile and faceless architecture, with the help of a compulsory drug taking program, helps rid this society of all traces of individuality and free-will. While the design is clearly different, the idea is a similar one to that used by the Nazis in the 1930s. By stripping the architecture and buildings of individuality, the statement is made that the good of the group is more

important than that of the individual. Under such circumstances, the notion of individuality itself becomes questionable. City of Eclecticism The changes that started developing throughout the 1960s and 1970s came into full effect in the 1980s. Post-modernism, as defined by Jameson in The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), culminated in the 1980s in an aesthetic populism[33], and a visual fragmentation that helped turn the science fiction film into an accepted mode of general and popular entertainment. The post-modern populace and the industrial world became a society of the image of the simulacrum, heavily influenced by the growing presence of technology and by the triumph of capitalism as the global mode of production. The new simulated experience relied on an abolition of the continuation of time and focused instead on its fragmentation, exploration, on dissecting and reassembling to arrive at a product which was neither new nor old, a product that sometimes lacked depth and that stimulated the senses on a different (and more superficial, possibly) level than was previously possible (or accepted). The weakening of historicity was felt in many fields and disciplines, and perhaps most of all, in the arts. Architects talked about post-modernism with the same intensity as they did about modernism. It marked the end of ambition, of beauty, of stability, of coherence, of unity and freed the profession from its shackles, from an over reliance on traditional methods and concepts, and from an outmoded way of thinking. Post-Modernism marks the effacement of the frontier between high culture and so-called mass or commercial culture. But most of all, the hyperrealin architecture brought about an originality and a flexibility that enabled it (and continues to do so) to reinvent itself. This new eclecticism of creation as well as the technological tools which surfaced in the 1980s, namely the computer and various CAD and 3D applications, enabled and empowered architects to explore new ideas and new concepts, and to envision structures that would have previously been much more difficult to realize. Buildings such as Frank Gehrys Loyola University Law School and Vitra Design Museum (and of course later, the Guggenheim in Bilbao), Daniel Libeskinds Jewish Museum in Berlin, Richard Rogers Lloyds Building in London and Fosters Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, or even Peter Cooks Design for Solar City, all relied on the power

of the computer to assist in the deconstruction and reconstruction of established structures and forms. If hardware and software helped architects dream up new structures and visions, it certainly also propelled science fiction cinema to a new level of visualization and entertainment. Special effects have now come to dominate the filmmaking process, at least in Hollywood, and many films, and not only science fiction films, rely on them for impact or merely for polishing and changes which would be too costly to make through re-shooting. But visual effects also enabled the film industry to add a new level of realism to some of the science fiction representations. At the core of science fiction cinema has always existed the dilemma that Vivian Sobchack refers to as a tension between those images which strive to totally remove us from a comprehensible and known world into romantic poetry and those images which strive to bring us back into a familiar and prosaic context. The new heterotopia of the 1980s is characterized by an eclecticism of forms and representations, with no single one truly dominating the texts from that period. In the end, with few new themes and visualizations of the city dominating, this rehashing of the past leads to a newfound curiosity and sense of acceptance towards old topics and themes. The fear of the Other has turned into an embrace of its difference and the city plays a pivotal role in making this shift in attitude possible. Humanity is no longer defined by its strict adherence to norms and values but rather by an open-mindedness and tolerance towards the robot, the alien, the black, the woman and the homosexual. Overall then, what ensues from these texts in the 1980s is perhaps a sense of confusion and a lack of a coherent and unified direction. Cities of Simulation The 1990s, on the other hand, are clearly marked by the dominance of the cities of simulation. A trend that began in the 1980s with films such as Tron (1982), Videodrome (1983), Electric Dreams (1984), Brainstorm (1983), Dreamscape (1984), and Wargames (1983), it realized its full potential in the 1990s, taking the post-modern patterns one step further and capitalizing on the acceptance of cyberpunk and virtual reality. . William Gibsons influential novel Neuromancer, published in 1984, marked the birth of Cyberpunk and offered a bleak and dark view of an urban neon-lit future

dominated by technology and simulation. Human relationships and connections as we knew them have mostly disappeared, humans preferring instead to interact through cyber networks and the use of avatars or personas. Reality no longer exists, or rather, has made way for a new type of reality or realities. In this sense, Gibsons masterly work was so prescient because it did not necessarily condemn the future it portrayed. The experience of the breakdown of space and of a flexible, adaptable reality where the difference between true and false, between real and imaginary is threatened, is illustrated, among others, in the cities of The Matrix (1999), Dark City (1998), and The 13th Floor (1999). In these cases, the city becomes a simulation, a construct, a replica of itself, a false reality that pretends to be real. In that sense, the city of simulation is an extension of and draws on the city of lies. But what differentiates these cities from many portrayed in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Alphaville, is the fact that reality is even more sinister than the simulation, thereby questioning our sense of normality and offering the acceptance of different realities as the way forward. The Present Sci-fi Cinema The new millennium has so far provided very few new ideas in science fiction cinema and even less in terms of interesting representations of the city. Most of the film industrys energy seems to be directed towards adaptations of comic books (Sin City (2005), Spider Man (2002), X Men (2000), Sky Captain (2004), Hellboy (2004)) or remakes of classics (Solaris (2002), Planet of the Apes (2001), The Time Machine (2002), War of the Worlds (2005), King Kong (2005)). In addition, the overload of visual effects continues, resulting in a plethora of effects-driven, destruction-focused films with little substance or character (The Day after Tomorrow (2004), The 6th Day (2000), Terminator 3 (2003)). Very few films manage to escape this mass of uniformity and lack of originality. Equilibrium (2002), for instance, can only rehash themes already explored in 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and THX 1138. It portrays a future where knowledge and individual thinking are forbidden and are controlled through brainwashing propaganda and drug taking. What is interesting about this film however, is its representation of the authoritarian and totalitarian city. Shot in various locations in Berlin (Olympic Stadium, Postdamer Platz) as well as in Rome, the films production design is clearly heavily

influenced by Nazi and Fascist architecture. In Code 46 (2003), Michael Winterbottom sends mixed messages about the city of the very near future. On the one hand, the effective cinematography captures beautiful images of Shanghai, London and Dubai to create a post-modernist and exotic view of the city that blends concerns for overpopulation and the impact of technology on individual freedom with a sense of acceptance and beauty towards the alienation created by the modern city. And on the other hand, the lead protagonists are shown to escape to a more rural and primitive lifestyle, filling the narrative with a sense of nostalgia for a past when less was available but men were more free. In the process, the film distorts space completely by mixing shots of various cities to give the impression of another (Hong Kong is Seattle) and by inserting spaces of desert where there should be none, portraying Shanghai as an overcrowded, fenced-in island surrounding by a sea of waste lands. The end result, which feels at times like a music video, portrays the city in a fragmented and ephemeral way, but with enough respect that the problems discussed in the film and the blame associated seem to somehow be shifted away from the city. The city is no longer responsible, simply the place where mans experiments and the inevitable journey of progress occur.
IV. The next CityStage: The next ScreenAge

The loss of naivety in which we pride ourselves so much, and which allows most people to today look at modernist and Wellsian ideals of the future with derision and contempt (Canary Wharf as monument to ruthless laissez-faire gigantism has resulted in a global suspicion of architectural and design schemes that offer to better our lives. Urban and city planning clearly continues to take place, but it usually has to be combined with a better excuse such as the turn of the century, or the Olympics and the financial opportunities it brings to restore impoverished areas of the cities in which the games will take place. in a post-modernist world, the balance between dreaming up new visions and realizing these visions in a profitable manner with a result that is egalitarian while still individualistic and not overly sterile or faceless, is indeed a difficult one to achieve. The architect at the end of the 20th century faces the problem of reconciling the opposing goals of conflict and contradiction (of Postmodernism) and (Modernisms goal) of unity and reconstruction.

Science-fiction cinema has also been plagued over the years by the inability to dream up new dreams. Aside for the occasional independent or low-budget production, for the past thirty years or so, science-fiction cinema has been the property of Hollywood, resulting in the genre being used as a cash cow, studio research indicating that dystopia sells better than utopia and that destruction and explosions are more profitable than drama and reflection. But as long as audiences themselves continue to suffer from a historical amnesia and a lack of dreaming and optimism for the future, it will be difficult for science-fiction cinema to break its reputation as a provider of cheap entertainment. The city thus no longer dreams and hopes in contemporary science fiction cinema. Instead, it lies, oppresses, destructs, simulates and provides its inhabitants with a variety of realities from which to choose. But the way out of post-modernism is not through a revisiting of modernism, nor is it through ignoring what we have learned. The way out of the end of history is not to make the past disappear, but to use the past to create something new which has little or no resemblance to the past, and to move towards an acceleration of history. Through this new embrace of the future, new representations of the city might just be possible again, whether on film or in reality.

METHODOLOGY Outline of the Study Title: Scifi In Reel Architecture


Reality/Imaginary Embedded on Screen

Poetics of Space
A. Real/ Material Space and Representational Space B. Creation of the Third Space: The Space In-Between

(Nature of the Third Space-Lefebvre, Space of private and public imaginaryFoucault)

C. The Potential Space of Play (Winnicot) II.

The Notion of the City

A. City in Depth a. Reifying Representations- Lost in Creation b. Flanerie like Cyber-browsing B. Dualism of City Images a. Public Life - Private Life b. Official Texts- Unofficial Texts c. Representing the Unrepresented Other C. Beyond Dualisms a. Dialogical City: Lived City b. Emotional City: The Weightless Driv c. The Trans-discursive City


Science Fiction Construction

A. Sci-Fi Cinema: From cheap thrills to high-tech CGI B. Parallel Worlds Sci-Fi and Architecture a. Rise of the City b. Cities of Hope c. Cities of Destruction d. Cities of Lies e. Cities of Dystopia f.

Cities of Eclecticism

g. Cities of Simulation IV.

The next CityStage: The next ScreenAge

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