taking place_x000B_

taking place_x000B_: Location and the Moving Image

Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    taking place_x000B_
    Book Description:

    Taking Place argues that the relation between geographical location and the moving image is fundamental and that place grounds our experience of film and media. Its original essays analyze film, television, video, and installation art from diverse national and transnational contexts to rethink both the study of moving images and the theorization of place.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7834-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: The Matter of Places
    (pp. vii-xxx)

    Toward the end of hisTheory of Film, Siegfried Kracauer writes some of the most explicitly humanist passages to be found in the book, a book whose subtitle is, we should remember,The Redemption of Physical Reality. In the final chapter, under the subheading “Moments of Everyday Life,” Kracauer wonders if the “small units” of contingent, material existence captured on and by film have a power over and above their service and enchainment to a film’s plot-driven, narrative project. Such a small unit, Kracauer contends,

    no doubt . . . is intended to advance the story to which it belongs,...

  4. Part I. Cinematic Style and the Places of Modernity
    • 1 From Venice to the Valley: California Slapstick and the Keaton Comedy Short
      (pp. 3-30)

      “California slapstick,” Jay Leyda’s label for screen comedy that emerged with the migration of the American motion picture industry to the West Coast in the 1910s, succinctly evokes the distinctive topography and comic physicality of the film genre Buster Keaton inherited when he gained control of his own production company in 1920.¹ In California slapstick, popular film forms derived from early chase comedies in Europe and the United States came into contact with the transformation of Southern California as a built environment during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Spurred by railroad and real estate speculation, the population of...

    • 2 The Eclipse of Place: Rome’s EUR from Rossellini to Antonioni
      (pp. 31-54)

      I want to begin this essay with a description of a place—a building, really—found in a curious travel book called ATime in Rome, written by the novelist Elizabeth Bowen and published in 1960. Bowen’s itinerary takes in the usual sites—Forum, fountains, Quirinal—but also many things that the polite mid-century female tourist might just as well have skipped. Intrepidly peripatetic, she submits herself, for instance, to a semipsychogeographical walk around the entirety of the Aurelian walls, and she heads into the periphery, as well, into areas of Rome better known to Pier Paolo Pasolini and subproletarian...

    • 3 Tales of Times Square: Sexploitation’s Secret History of Place
      (pp. 55-76)

      American sexploitation cinema of the 1960s has long been associated with the environment of the mythically seedy grind house theater, its blazing marquees and lurid come-ons pasted on one-sheets at theater front, beckoning unsuspecting passersby. Though sexploitation films were shot and their production companies were located across the United States, the major producers were headquartered predominantly in New York and Los Angeles. In both their production histories and their construction of fantasized scenarios of sexual adventure, sexploitation films were inextricably tied to the spatial specificity, to the particular places, of New York City in the 1960s (Figure 3.1).

      As an...

    • 4 Derek Jarman in the Docklands: The Last of England and Thatcher’s London
      (pp. 77-98)

      In spring 1986, Derek Jarman directedThe Queen Is Dead, three linked music promos for the zeitgeist Manchester indie band The Smiths. This cinematic triptych for the songs “The Queen Is Dead,” “There’s a Light That Never Goes Out,” and “Panic” captures something of both the band’s and Jarman’s deeply felt anger about the cultural and political malaise at the heart of Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s Britain. The Smiths’ jangling guitars with lead singer Morrissey’s sharp, aching lyrics are heard over a montage of urban alienation, quickly cut images of derelict urban sites that foreground a city of isolation and disconnection...

  5. Part II. Place as Index of Cinema
    • 5 The Cinecittà Refugee Camp, 1944–50
      (pp. 101-132)

      The conversion of one of Europe’s largest movie studios, Cinecittà, to a refugee camp has always seemed an odd footnote to the chronicles of Italian cinema. However, as one recognizes its material and historical vicissitudes, its true magnitude, the duration of its existence, and the broader social and political forces that governed its development, the camp emerges as a stunning phenomenon and, in effect, a prime allegorical tableau of its time. Once confronted, the existence of the camp marks our vision of postwar film history and, in particular, of neorealism.

      In that postwar era, the difficulty of obtaining shelter and...

    • 6 Right Here in Mason City: The Music Man and Small-Town Nostalgia
      (pp. 133-156)

      It was just as if the movie had come to life, as if they were actually experiencing the thrill Professor Harold Hill sang about when “Gilmore, Liberatti, Pat Conway, the Great Creatore, W. C. Handy, and John Philip Sousa all came to town on the same historic day!”¹ This sunny Tuesday was the high point, some might say, of the town’s entire history. Visitors had begun arriving on Monday, or even earlier, during the weekend: high school students and their chaperones; Warner Bros. representatives; members of the press from all over the country; and most exciting of all, movie stars,...

    • 7 When the Set Becomes Permanent: The Spatial Reconfiguration of Hollywood North
      (pp. 157-180)

      At Rosco Digital Imaging’s Toronto location, one of the many providers of backdrops of skyline scenes used in film and television productions, there are several scenic views of Manhattan available, including a financial district, an Upper East Side, and a view of the island from Brooklyn Heights, each under various lighting and seasonal conditions. They are rented out by the day to hang behind the false windows of soundstages to establish the location of the action so that any office or apartment can be placed in New York just by looking out the window. The backdrop industry is an unappreciated...

    • 8 The Last Place on Earth? Allegories of Deplacialization in Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie
      (pp. 181-208)

      In 1969, Dennis Hopper’s independently producedEasy Ridercaptured the counterculture’s pulse beyond the wildest dreams of the studios. Exploiting the techniques that had defined underground cinema in New York for the previous decade,Easy Riderrepresented the countercultural lifestyle as a perceptual euphoria that was simultaneously antiestablishment and accessible to the mainstream. As Jack Kerouac had famously described it a generation earlier, freedom inEasy Ridermeant being “on the road,” where loose women, fast bikes, and most memorably, a psychedelic LSD trip updated the frontier myth for a new generation. But as the apocalyptic end of the film...

  6. Part III. Geopolitical Displacements
    • 9 The Nonplace of Argento: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Roman Urban History
      (pp. 211-232)

      Early in his debut filmL’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage; 1970), Dario Argento presents the following scene: Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante), an American writer living in Rome, while out for an uneventful nighttime walk on an empty street in the modern Flaminio district, witnesses a struggle between a man and a woman through the double glass doors of a brightly lit contemporary art gallery. Sam’s concern builds, and as soon as he sees a knife, he begins to walk across the street, heroically, if mindlessly, drawn toward the luminous space. After a passing car...

    • 10 The Placement of Shadows: What’s Inside William Kentridge’s Black Box/Chambre Noire?
      (pp. 233-254)

      In the relatively small, but critically substantial, work on William Kentridge’s films, installations, theatrical sets, drawings, and sculptures, the emphasis has often been on questions of process, movement, ephemerality, and transformation. Critics have focused on Kentridge’s signature transformations of darkness into light, charcoal-and-ink drawings into cinema, dreams and illusions into reality, and in all cases, vice versa. The ineffability of Kentridge’s signature shadows—figures sketched in charcoal, pencil, pastels, ink, and any other medium that can be erased, diluted, or reworked—are typically understood to encapsulate the evasions and infinite transformation of history, politics, and memory.¹ Scholars such as Tom...

    • 11 Into the “Imaginary” and “Real” Place: Stan Douglas’s Site-Specific Film and Video Projection
      (pp. 255-276)

      In the terrain of contemporary art, the projection of film and video in the gallery is a popular means of combining an image, a viewing subject, and a space. The termprojectionrefers to the transfer of images—those made of light but not identical to it in their final figuration—onto the surfaces that embody them. This “travel of luminous images”¹ is inherently indissociable from the apparatus and the space-time situation in which the viewer perceives them. In this sense, the concept of projection offers us the rendering of two places simultaneously; first, we are invited to an “imaginary”...

    • 12 Doing Away with Words: Synaesthetic Dislocations in Okinawa and Hong Kong
      (pp. 277-296)

      Across his work as a cinematographer, photographer, and director, Christopher Doyle’s images seem to work against claims on materiality. His color-saturated cinematography for directors like Zhang Yimou, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, and Wong Kar-wai is more decorative than realist, and its abstracted style often focuses attention on the composed surface of the screen rather than its profilmic depth.¹ Thus Doyle seems at first glance to be oddly matched with a project based on the material significance of cinematic location. Yet, if we examine Doyle’s own background, the question of location takes on what looks like a defining influence. A white Australian, Doyle...

  7. Part IV. (Not) Being There
    • 13 Moving through Images
      (pp. 299-316)

      This essay takes up as a theoretical problem a use of cinema with which we are all familiar and about which one rarely speaks, namely, moving—not what happens when an image moves but when we do. It is a question concerning the use we make of images of a place that we do not yet know in its livable potential, neither in its ontic facticity—that which will be there ahead of me, with me, or after me—nor as mood. We have no idea of the possible relations between what is already there—what is already, enduringly, and...

    • 14 Living Dead Spaces: The Desire for the Local in the Films of George Romero
      (pp. 317-338)

      This essay theorizes the structure and function of localness in cinema, examining the split viewership that results when films embrace marginal, relatively unknown real spaces as a backdrop for fictional narrative. Drawing on Jacques Lacan’s discussion of anamorphosis, especially the idea that spectatorial engagement depends on the inscrutable copresence of the other’s desire—an oblique field in which the beholder does not reside—I argue that an excess of localness in cinema can appear as an incongruous smear on the face of the text, a site of disjuncture at which perspective reveals its own multiplicity. Although isolated traces of the...

    • 15 On the Grounds of Television
      (pp. 339-362)

      Since the medium of television emerged in the United States more than half a century ago, it has almost invariably been understood as a form of displacement. When we see a place on television, we are most often somewhere else—at home instead of at the ball game, at a bar in the United States instead of at the Olympics in some other country, in Iowa instead of on the New York soundstage that stands in for New York in the world of sitcoms. Television’s reputed capacity for providing a real-time “window on the world” also lies chiefly in the...

  8. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 363-364)
  9. Contributors
    (pp. 365-368)
  10. Index
    (pp. 369-376)