Images of the liminal
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Images of the liminal Presentation Transcript

  • 1. James Kennell, University of Greenwich
    &
    Wesley Rykalski, Birkbeck College, University of London
    Images of the liminal: seaside promenades through the lens of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project
  • 2. The Arcades Project
    Incomplete, fragmentary work left by Benjamin in Paris
    A collection of notes, photographs, observations, folders and quotations
    Ostensibly ‘about’ the Parisian arcades, but also a methodological and conceptual experiment
    A cultural materialist form of historical practice
  • 3. Parataxis as method
    “Method of this project: literary montage. I needn't say anything. Merely show. I shall purloin no valuables, appropriate no ingenious formulations. But the rags, the refuse - these I will not inventory but allow, in the only way possible, to come into their own: by making use of them.” [Benjamin AP N1a,8]
  • 4. Dialectical images
    “It is not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present its light on what is past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation.  In other words, image is dialectics at a standstill.  For while the relation of the present to the past is a purely temporal one, continuous one, the relation of what-has-been to the now is dialectical: is not progression but image, suddenly emergent” (Benjamin AP N2a,3)
  • 5. Why Promenades?
    Provides a focus for study of the development of and current context of the seaside as a cultural-political construct
    Similarities to the Parisian arcades in terms of:
    Class divides
    Architectural forms
    Development of leisure
    Commodification of space
  • 6. Photography and the collective method
    Key aspect of our method
    Building on the missing archive of the Arcades Project
    Using the possibilities of 2.0 technology to extend both collecting and parataxis
    Random (ish) collection and random(ish) presentation using picassa
  • 7. Reading the Arcades / Reading the Promenades
  • 8. Reading the Arcades / Reading the Promenades
    http://arcadespromenades.wordpress.com
    http://www.twitter.com/arcadeproms
  • 9. The non-liminality of the shore
    Liminality must be more than an edge
    The concept needs to offer some form of ritual transformation
    If ‘just’ topography then liminality is everywhere and of limited use
    ‘limits’ have been areas of control, fortification and transformation by force and coercion
    Seaside tourism is not transformative, it is the relocation of the rituals of the every-day
  • 10.
  • 11.
  • 12.
  • 13. The anti-carnivalesque of the promenades
    Limanality is usually aligned with the carnivalesque in discussions of the seaside
    The carnivalesque is not a zone of freedom, it is a temporo-spatial form of control
    Fundamentally, what people get up to on the promenade shows very little evidence of liminal ambiguity or carnivalesque license
  • 14.
  • 15. The promenade as a social space
    What we did find was lots of evidence of the promenade as a managed and managing space
    Key activities – regulation of behaviours; display; observation; commerce
    Leads us to the idea of managed liminality- the frissons of the historic shore have now been effectively brought into the capitalist mode of production, including the production (and productivity) of leisure
  • 16.
  • 17.
  • 18. If not liminality, then what?
    Benjamin collapses the distinction between inside / outside and private / public by showing how ‘leisure’ works by transgressing these divisions
    We find this too, in the architectural form of the promenade
    Without these oppositions, liminality loses it’s use
    A cultural materialist approach seeks to engage with the practices, forms and governmentality of space
    Avoids a mythology of space, which can mask the power relations of capitalism
  • 19.
  • 20. Flânerie as practice and method
    “The crowd is the veil through which through which the familiar city is transformed for the flâneur into phantasmagoria. This phantasmagoria, in which the city appears now as landscape, now a room, seems later to have inspired the décor of department store, which thus puts flânerie to work for profits. In any case, department stores are the last precincts of flânerie.” (Benjamin 1939: 21)