LOOKING & SEEING Stage 1 Semester 2 Walter Benjamin The Arcades Project. Alexandra M. Kokoli [email protected] Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (1927-1940; Das Passagenwerk , 1st publ. 1982). Chronologically belongs to late Modernism YET, see 1 st publ. date!
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“Those who have seen the gallery of the Louvre may take it as a model for the street-gallery in Harmony.” E. Silberling, Dictionnaire de sociologie phalanstérienne (Paris, 1911) [A3a,5]
2. 18th/19th c.: popular street spectacle; sometimes a ghostly spectacle, hybrid between a séance and a picture show.
‘Panorama’ = continuous narrative scene or landscape painted to conform to a flat or curved background, which surrounds or is unrolled before the viewer. Precursor to the large-screen moving image
From economies of production to
cultures of consumption
NB: an ideological, not actual shift! (There’s no avoiding economic relations – simply a question of covering them up)
Cf. Judith Williamson, Decoding Advertisements (London: Marion Boyars, 1978), pp. 12-13:
‘In the connection of people and objects, the two become interchangeable […]. Objects are made to speak—like people: “say it with flowers.” […] Conversely, […] people become identified with objects: “the Pepsi People” […]’
Baron Georges Eugène HAUSSMANN (1809-1891): as prefect of the Seine (1853-70) carried out large-scale renovations of the city (modernisation of sanitation, public utilities, construction of the Paris Opera and Les Halles)
WB saw the 19 in th c. Parisian arcades as having something to reveal about the world he lived in.
What, if anything, do the arcades have to do with us?
What is the meaning of the Arcades Project now?
‘Inspired by Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project, e-Arcades is an excursion of association among quotations concerning technology. Borrowing Benjamin's methodology of juxtaposing quotes, e-Arcades grasps at an understanding of the effect of our technologies on how we think as well as live.’
“The industry is running scared from the technology that evens out the creative field and makes artists harder to pimp. I'm glad to be a contributor to the bomb.”
Chuck D Public Enemy, speaking of MP3 1999
[cf. his Rapstation.com, a multi-format site with TV & radio original programming the free downloads]
Seminars for groups 1 & 2 this Wednesday, 5 March, will take place in GA49 (on the left of the canteen entrance) instead of the studio.
Excerpts from The Arcades Project published in Other Voices, 1.1 (March 1997):
1. The Arcades http://www.othervoices.org/gpeaker/Arcades.html
2. The Flâneur http://www.othervoices.org/gpeaker/Flaneur.html
3. The Commodity http://www.othervoices.org/gpeaker/Commod.html
Further Reading (Library & Internet resources)
Baudelaire, Charles, ‘The Painter of Modern Life’, in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, trans. and ed. Jonathan Mayne (London: Phaidon, 1995), pp. 1-41. Shelfmark 759.06 BAU
Benjamin, Walter, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999). Shelfmark 944.361 081 BEN
Buck-Morss, Susan, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989). Shelfmark 720.1 BEN
Caygill, Howard,Walter Benjamin: The colour of experience (London: Routledge, 1998). Shelfmark 701 BEN
Leslie, Esther, ‘Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project’ http://www.militantesthetix.co.uk/waltbenj/yarcades.html
The Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate (an on-line research resource for individuals interested in the writings and critical theory of WB) http://www.wbenjamin.org/walterbenjamin.html