A reciprocal relationship exists between cinema and the metropolis: a symbolic exchange, affirming a link between the world of cinematic images and urban experience. The cinematic captures the memory of the urban landscape and the ambiances of its everyday through the penetration of the camera as a ‘third eye’ into the hidden depths of the city. The particularity of cinematic language makes perceptible the complexity of the metropolis. Thus, through this ‘eye’ we can engage in a cinematic flânerie exploring the minutiae of urban experience to build a visual presentation as a phenomenological modality.
The universe of cinema contributes to our collective imagination of the metropolis, helping us to build a vision of the complexity and topography of urban existence. The movie image provides an aperture on the physiognomy and ambiances of the city, enabling us to ‘feel’ its atmospheres, to ‘touch’ the emotions that emerge from urban spaces onto the movie screen.
The power of the image lies in its capacity to transport us, allowing us to traverse the landscapes of the metropolis by way of the camera, thereby triggering a convergence of history, culture and visual memory in our perceptive space.
The particularity of cinematic language helps us to structure our collective imagination of the city through its multiform penetration of the real, and conversely, the real is shaped by the diversity of images presented to us through film which contribute to our understanding of the everyday. Cinema makes visible the metropolis, which on this view exists in and through the images projected onto the screen.
That the birth of cinema coincided with the dawn of the modern metropolis implies a visual journey parallel with the development trajectory of the urban landscape. This landscape forms a fabric of images which captivates and structures the gaze of the viewer, allowing us to form an interpretation of the urban panorama using a visual approach as a form of social science inquiry.
Following the theoretical perspective of Gilles Deleuze, cinematographic perception lies in the very essence of cinema, namely its production of images irreducible to the model of subjective perception. The visible helps us form an interpretation of the world, a configuration of the Weltbild: the world we understand as image. A Weltanschauung is at work in the cinematic panorama as an ontology through which to capture and develop a form of understanding of the real. In this analysis, the cinematic image is therefore understood as an image of thought and a reflex of daily life.
For Deleuze, inspired by Henri Bergson, the philosophical question of cinema is a mechanism of thought operating with the signs of the image-movement charged with dynamic tension. The relation between image and thought becomes a phenomenology which helps us to ‘decrypt’ the world and its urban dimension. The cinema can be viewed thus as way of understanding the urban landscape, a form of knowledge, as for Siegfried Kracauer an expressive documentary recording a given culture’s social world, or, following Simmel, a methodology through which to explore the sensible experience of urban social existence. Read on »