PROPOSITION: The wound to New York and the wound to cinema are inextricably linked and it is only when New York figures out what it needs to do to heal itself that cinema will be able to do the same.

Theodor W. Adorno said after Auschwitz no more poetry; I am tempted to say after September 11 no more cinema. Not all cinema will vanish, of course, but one of its core vocations, namely the dramatisation of space, has certainly entered a period of ‘crisis’ from which it will emerge only when the trauma of the collapse of the Twin Towers can be faced with the steady conscience of an historian. In the meantime, anything that serves to bring that trauma to mind is to be rigorously avoided. Obviously enough, any pre-September 11 image of the World Trade Centre is henceforth profane. Cinema will have to be mindful of indirect associations as well, such is the magnitude of the trauma almost any tall building could now be made to stand in for the ill-fated towers. This is particularly true of those buildings and structures that have an iconic status of their own, such as the Sears Towers in Chicago, or the CN Tower in Toronto. But even that may not be the full extent of the new taboo. I expect for some, the vertiginous image itself may be sufficient to provoke an unwelcome return of barely repressed memories, so perhaps this staple of suspense flicks will be proscribed too. Certainly, though, the wanton destruction of (American) cityscapes such as one encounters in Deep Impact (Mimi Leder, 1998), Independence Day (Roland Emmerich, 1996) and Godzilla (Roland Emmerich, 1998) will be utterly prohibited. Now, the practical question cinema is faced with is how will it resolve this ‘crisis’?

The ‘twin prows of Manhattan’, as Michel de Certeau described them, have been used in countless movies and TV shows to create a kind of signature skyline that says ‘this is New York City’ with the same wordless economy that the Eiffel tower says ‘this is Paris’. In their absence, can we even bear to gaze at a New York City skyline again? I expect cinema will not dare to dramatise space again until the moment when the gaping wound in the skyline is healed. Until then, no monumental space will be filmable in a way that does not bring to mind New York’s missing pair of icons. Just as historians have debated what to do with Auschwitz so I am sure historians, but of the TV talk-show kind, will debate what should be done with the world’s most valuable bomb-site, or what the media are now calling ‘ground zero’. Should they create a memorial like they did in the centre of Hiroshima, the original ‘ground zero’, and leave the space open as a reminder to the world of the catastrophe that befell New York City? Or should they rebuild it bigger and flashier than before as Berlin has done with the twice-devastated Potsdamerplatz (first by allied bombing in World War II and then by Cold War politicking), replete with conspicuous foreign investment, to prove how ‘over it’ they are? It is hard to imagine New Yorkers submitting to either option. So what will they do? The only thing they can do to suture the wound: rebuild the towers.

The question is, will cinema too be reborn in this moment? How will it dramatise the newly erected towers in such a way as to effectuate its own redemption? This will be a difficult cinematic task: it will have to mourn the dead, respect the living they left behind, and yet praise the feat of rebuilding all without letting needless negativity cloud the issue. It will be a moment of melancholic triumph, if such a thing is possible. In order to even begin to speculate an answer to this question we have first of all to specify the nature of the ‘crisis’ itself. To do that we have to find a means of bringing into relief – by itself and for itself – the relation between cinema and space. Although cinema is widely acknowledged as a supremely spatial art, space is still treated more often than not as simply that through which the camera moves, or even more problematically still as that which contains the action. If we are to make any sense of what is really at stake in the present crisis we must enact a Kantian reversal of polarity and grasp space for what it really is, namely a condition of possibility.

As is so often true in cinema studies, it is Hitchcock who shows the way. It is the stuff of legends that the intricate plotting of North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) was fabricated entirely from the wellspring of Hitchcock’s whimsical desire to shoot a chase sequence across the face of Mount Rushmore. The true MacGuffin of this film, therefore, isn’t the identity of the mysterious George Kaplan, but the entire narrative inasmuch as the whole thing is literally nothing more than an elaborate pretext for this one scene which, fittingly, is placed at the end. Cinema studies usually asks, when it chooses to consider the specificity of space, what a narrative gains by being set in a particular location; what the example of North by Northwest suggests we might also do, however, is ask the reverse question: what does a space gain by being inserted in a particular narrative?

But this is only the first step, because now we must figure out the nature of the dynamic relation between a certain space and the narrative that would encompass it. I find it especially instructive in this regard to compare what the camera can do with what the human eye can do alone, in doing so I believe we hit upon one of the essential attractions of cinema: it is a prosthetic device for Frederic Jameson usefully calls ‘cognitive mapping’. Unaided, neither the human body nor brain is up to the task of ‘taking-in’ so magnificent and literally wondrous a creation as a pair of 110 storey buildings. Only the camera’s free-floating lens, unencumbered as it is by the frailties of ‘meat’ (to use cyberpunk’s telling term for the corporeal), is adequate to the physical and indeed cognitive demands of the immense skyscrapers one often finds now in the downtowns of the major cities of the world. It is not only the scale or volume of these structures that exceeds our imagination’s capacity to grasp the whole, but the filigree as well. And of course, lurking behind the magnificent and strange facades (both interior and exterior) of these fabulous new structures, there exists an ‘other’ realm of wiring and piping and insulation that one never thinks of until it breaks down. Thus we can say a building eludes the eye and with it our faculty for cognitive mapping, in at least three ways: 1) extensity of scale; 2) intensity of detail; and 3) obscurity of machinic elements.

By taking what Gilles Deleuze calls a ‘problematic’ approach, I will argue it is possible to contrive a whole new schematisation of cinema around these three ‘problems’ of the eye. By treating them precisely as problems one can consider individual narratives as specific dramatic or filmic ‘solutions’ to already generalised problems. Properly dramatised a space will be fully integrated with the narrative; whereas if it is merely represented it will simply be a static backdrop. Compare, for example, two moments in the opening minutes of a recent Bond adventure – the pre-credits sequence is set in Bilbao for no discernible reason besides affording the opportunity for the action to take place in a view of Gehry’s Guggenheim (representation); this is shortly thereafter followed by a speedboat chase down the Thames from the famous new MI5 building – Bond’s putative headquarters – through the newly gentrified Docklands and Bankside areas finishing up on top of the much maligned Millennium dome (dramatisation). The difference between the two scenes can be determined quite straightforwardly – all one has to do is ask the question how would the scene alter if the setting was changed? In the first case, you could excise the image of the Guggenheim, which one only glimpses in the distance through a window anyway, and nothing much would change; by which I mean, if the window revealed an entirely featureless cityscape it would not alter the drama of the moment in any way. In the second case, the chase could not take place anywhere except in a maze of canals without alteration. The question is whether or not those particular canals could find another means of representation besides a chase sequence that would or could do them justice?

The advantage of the ‘problematic’ approach is that it creates the means of assessing particular depictions of space in a properly filmic and comparative fashion. Problems select solutions, and vice versa, which is to say not every solution is as good or effective as any other, and not every problem is as good or effective as any other. The essential task of the philosopher/film critic is to determine which problems have the greatest truth and which solutions are the most adequate to the demands of the problem. “A solution always has the truth it deserves according to the problem to which it is a response, and the problem always has the solution it deserves in proportion to its own truth or falsity – in other words, in proportion to its sense.” (Deleuze 1994: 159) In Deleuze’s view, a problem is already a solution, already contains its solution, if it has been sufficiently well analysed and hasn’t fallen prey to the many and various temptations into falsity. The most notable and to Deleuze’s mind damnable lure in this regard is the dialectic, which deludes the unwary philosopher into thinking problems disappear in their solutions. (Deleuze 1994: 158) The problem and its solution are a couplet, however, and far from vanishing into the solution the problem “insists and persists” there as its very sense. (Deleuze 1994: 163) If we forget the originating ‘problem’, then the ‘solution’ can but seem empty and abstract, indeed arbitrary, because it has nothing to stand on and no motivational support to energise or validate it. This is why Deleuze is sometimes moved to say philosophy isn’t really concerned with problem-solutions at all, but is in fact entirely taken up with the elaboration – to the furthermost degree possible – of the implications of questions. (Deleuze 1991: 106) Either way, as I will try to illustrate more fully below, this standpoint can be readily adapted to the analysis of cinema.

Problems do not fall from the sky ready-made, they must be produced, and not simply intuited, which is why Deleuze often insists on the necessity for what he calls experimentation in philosophy. The implication that needs to be drawn from this is that space isn’t a problem by itself, it has to be turned into a problem, its problematic core has to be extracted and given a conceptual or form before the philosopher can begin to ‘think’ it. This is in fact what we have already begun to do above by specifying that space isn’t one problem, but three. Now, though, we must take it a step further because what I am effectively arguing is that a space only becomes amenable to cinema when it is grasped as a threefold problem, until then it can but subsist in the blunt yet obtrusive obscurity of being simply there. For the cinematographer, these three problems form the basis of the ‘affects’ (to use Deleuze’s term for the aesthetic cognate of thought – the philosopher produces concepts that draw out the eventality of thought; artists produce percepts that draw out the affect of perception) his or her camera must seek to purify and release if it is to dramatise a space – the sheer vastness of its scale; its all but incomprehensible complexity; and, its hidden or secret instrumentality.

Let me briefly illustrate this with some examples. The first affect, namely vastness of a structure, is both the easiest to achieve and, as it were, the most difficult. It is easy in the sense that a chase sequence can easily incorporate almost any space into the narrative, but difficult in the sense that this very facility sometimes ’causes’ us to mistake that space for a static backdrop. Often the problem is that the action is so engrossing we forget where it is taking place. The irony is that our level of interest in the action is directly proportional to how well the particular affect of vastness has been realised. Vastness is usually accomplished by using a downward-looking subjective shot with perhaps the addition of a rapid moving downward tracking-shot to create a properly vertiginous sensation as in Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). At any rate, the scale of the building becomes an affect for us the minute we start thinking about how far it would be to fall from its uppermost height, which is where the action invariably takes place. In order for us not to forget place altogether in all the excitement of the chase, frequent long-shots are needed to establish and re-establish the relation between the action and a particular place. The stunning opening sequence of The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, 1974) is something of an object lesson in this regard inasmuch as we never lose sight of the fact that it is precisely The Needle where the chase is taking place. But chases aren’t the only way of bringing vastness into view. The very same view that Pakula uses to such good effect is used by James Cameron in his TV series Dark Angel to create an entirely different sensation, contemplative rather than fearful. This perspective enacts a reversal – the vastness of the building is shown to be minor by comparison with the city itself. The sheer voluptuousness of the view, as de Certeau once put it (speaking of his visit to the World Trade Centre in New York, as it happens), is humbling.

The incomprehensible complexity of a structure stems from the realisation that even if one has a God’s-eye view of a city, let’s say, one still wouldn’t be able to grasp it whole (see de Certeau 1984: 91ff). The substitute for the God’s-eye view today is the surveillance camera. Sliver (Phillip Noyce, 1993) is, I suppose, the locus classicus of this particular solution, but the paradigm was already set by Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954). As with the previous affect, complexity can give rise to two antithetical sensations which in the manner of all contradictions can be seen to be opposite sides of the same coin – on the one hand it can induce a kind of paranoia that someone else knows the space better than I do; but it can also give rise to a sense of mastery. The basic gambit of Sliver is to attempt some kind of a squaring of the circle and bring about the unity of these two opposites: something like a ‘working through’ (in the Freudian sense) of the paranoiac fear of being constantly watched is attempted with the aim of turning it into its opposite, i.e., the sense of security one derives from having someone watch your back. It seems, then, that the voyeuristic thrill the watcher gets from observing our every move is the price we pay for the assurance that Big Brother is watching. Sometimes, though, the surveillance is auditory rather than visual, the heating ducts in old buildings seem to have a particular facility for conducting sound and many a private conversation is overhead that shouldn’t be – for example, Single White Female (Barbet Schroeder, 1992), relies extensively on this means of overhearing. In either case, the technology, whether extremely sophisticated, as in Sliver, or utterly old-fashioned as in Single White Female, serves the singular purpose of revealing the complexity of space – the drama of both is premised on the fact that the space of the modern apartment building is beyond the grasp of the on-foot observer.

There seems to be two standard ways of realising the hidden instrumentality of a building and both seem to involve or at least portend its destruction: there is a natural and a supernatural way of going about it. As Jameson says, the ghost story is fundamentally an architecture-inspired narrative form. Its usual structure is that of a kind of return of the (historically) repressed, the ghost represents a past wrong that remains to be righted. Thus, as Jameson also argues in a different place, the ghost story is the postmodern means of achieving historicity, albeit of a greatly restricted kind. I will return to this point in a moment. But for now, the point I want to make is that ghosts are a means of revealing the full extent to which a building, especially a large and complicated one like a skyscraper, is in fact a complex piece of machinery – there are lifts, automated fire-suppression systems, heating ducts, air-conditioning units, phone lines, indeed a virtually limitless list of things we never think about unless we are made to. And the standard means of doing that is via their failure and interestingly enough it doesn’t matter whether it is caused by a supernatural presence or merely a malfunction of the most banal kind because in both cases the result is the same: the building mega-machine suddenly achieves autonomy. No longer subordinate to our implicit wishes and needs, the maverick machine whether possessed by a demon or subject to a faulty chip takes on a life of its own and becomes ‘the enemy’. To my mind, the truly great example is The Towering Inferno (John Guillermin, 1974) – I would claim that it wouldn’t alter the film by very much if it turned out the faulty wiring was sparked by a malicious poltergeist revenging the deaths of workers killed in the construction process.

Taking a very broad look at the history of cinema one can see that these three affects have been realised in a considerable number of different ways – for instance, I have made no mention of comedy, or romance. Using the originating problems as a set of axes, one can sort the solutions both diachronically and synchronically – the diachronic refers to the permutations within a single problem-solution couplet across time; while the synchronic refers to the experimentation in the problem-solution couplet, that is to say, the diverse solutions attempted in relation to a single problem. Let me try to illustrate this with an extended example that relates specifically to New York City. In 1933, Schoedsack and Cooper used a giant, prehistoric ape to dramatise the ‘new’ Empire State building (completed in 1931), namely King Kong. And interestingly enough, in 1976, John Guillermin hit upon precisely the same solution to dramatise the new World Trade Centre (completed in 1973), the doubleness of the towers emphasised by a scarcely credible leap by Kong from one to the other. It is hard to imagine that the same solution will be used a third time if and when the World Trade Centre is rebuilt. That we can be so certain about this is a testament, I believe, to the insistence of spatial problematics in our understanding of cinema. Here, then, we confront the synchronic dimension, because the question that comes to mind now, which is precisely a question concerning ‘selection’, is: why dramatise the space in this way?

The 1976 version of King Kong, which was Jessica Lange’s debut, was made in the teeth of the oil crisis, stagflation and virtual bankruptcy of New York City. The story brought these three elements together by having an oil drilling expedition search for oil in a remote island somewhere off the coast of Sumatra (read non-OPEC) only to come up empty-handed. What at first looks like oil, a black oozing mass glimpsed seeping out of the ground at the edges of a primitive village turns out to be mere primeval ooze, of the same lineage as oil but not yet evolved enough to be oil. But this isn’t known at first, so the expedition’s leader (Charles Grodin) thinks he has struck it rich and doesn’t pay much attention to the cultural or indeed spiritual dimension of the village itself, which when we see it for the first time appears to be in the grips of some kind of marriage ritual. The palaeontologist (Jeff Bridges) who just happens to be on hand explains that it is some kind of a sacrificial offering that is taking place. This in turn motivates the action to follow because it turns out that the village’s medicine man considers Dwan (Jessica Lange) to be worth at least six of the local girls (this is how many women he offers in trade for her), the implication being that she would make a superior victim. Naturally the deal is turned down and just as naturally, it seems, the villagers nevertheless manage to kidnap Dwan and promptly offer her up to their God. A rescue attempt is staged, but it goes wrong and Dwan is taken off into the jungle by the village God, Kong. While a second rescue attempt is organised it is learned that the substance that looked like oil isn’t, thus the entire expedition begins to seem doubly disastrous.

This is a key turning point in the drama. In the true entrepreneurial spirit of late-capitalism, the expedition commander realises that although he hasn’t discovered oil he may have struck upon something equally valuable, a new logo, namely Kong himself, that would promote sales as effectively as ESSO’s ‘put a tiger in your tank’ slogan. This neatly dramatises Jameson’s argument that postmodernism spells the end of nature (oil) and heralds a cultural turn (Kong as logo), it also belies Naomi Klein’s claim that the power of the logo wasn’t discovered until the 1990s. Without wishing to dispute the findings of her analyses concerning the changes to the economy made possible by the ruthless exploitation of the logo, I would nevertheless argue that even if its full potential wasn’t understood in the 1970s (and earlier), its significance to business was already quite patent. That the capture of Kong and his subsequent removal to America – first stop New York City – could in the mid-1970s seem plausibly motivated by the rationale that a prehistoric monster would make an excellent company logo and was therefore worth the danger and expense of bringing it to the so-called civilised world is testament enough, I think, that the logo’s grip on global capital was already secure some two decades before the advent of the dubiously named ‘new economy’. Accordingly, it is possible to fuse Klein’s argument with Jameson’s to make the case that the cultural turn Jameson speaks of was in fact accomplished by power of the logo, which in Klein’s view is precisely a compression of cultural and economic forces inasmuch as she argues that the logo transcends the product. (1)

The second rescue attempt never materialises because once the decision is made to capture Kong all energy is put to this purpose. Any quibbling over this rather callous disregard for the lives of the men in the original rescue party is put to rest when one of their number staggers back into camp to report that all hands had been lost except for one, the palaeontologist, who (gutsy idealist that he is) has gone on ahead alone. He manages to spirit Dwan away from Kong when the latter is literally tied up in a fight to the death with a gigantic python. The pair then hurry back to the now deserted village with Kong in hot pursuit, the earth trembling beneath his very step. At the village, meanwhile, a large pit has been excavated and covered over with branches to form a trap for Kong. Barrels of chloroform placed at the base of the pit are detonated when Kong gets within range and he is overcome by the resulting miasma of anaesthesia (although unprotected, the men standing around the pit into which Kong collapses are evidently immune to its effects since none of them succumb to it). Next we see Kong, symbolically enough, in the hold of an otherwise empty oil tanker. He is taken to New York City where after a very brief debut replete with tinsel crown and paparazzi, as expected, he escapes.

Thus we come to the third and final act, the one which principally interests us because it involves The World Trade Centre. When Kong breaks free of his chains he charges off into the metropolis as though heading back into the jungle. And indeed much fuss is made about the need to know exactly where Kong will go, as though New York is jungle-like enough for a fifty foot high gorilla to vanish into! This overblown commotion is of course soon revealed for what it is: an extremely thin attempt to create a half-way plausible pretext to give the palaeontologist the appearance of something to bargain with so that the final encounter between man and beast can be imbued with at least the semblance of pathos via the discourse of betrayal and the murder of an innocent. Predicably, the palaeontologist, who wants Kong preserved in a zoo somewhere, knows exactly where Kong will go, like the great beast himself he notices the freakish similarity between the silhouette of the two towers of the World Trade Centre and the twin peaked mountain at the centre of Kong’s island home. So he strikes a deal with the security forces that he’ll tell them where Kong will go in return for them not killing him. While he’s striking up this deal, Dwan is captured by Kong who thinking he is escaping to his own domain, climbs one of the towers with her in hand, thus necessitating yet another dramatic rescue on the part of our doughty palaeontologist. Now, the end comes swiftly: the security forces welsh on the deal and (from a helicopter) gun down the innocent Kong who falls 110 stories and thuds into the piazza where he dies a few melodramatic heartbeats later.

King Kong has been described as an eco-conscious movie, but this I think falls prey too readily to the feeble pathos of the third act (innocent nature betrayed and murdered). (2) In Deleuze’s terms, it focuses too intently on the false problem of the meaning of Kong, rather than interrogating how Kong works. With respect to the ‘meaning’ of Kong, I would argue (following Jameson’s account of Jaws) that what is important is not what Kong represents, but the fact that he is inserted into a texture that invites interpretation – it is his capacity to absorb meaning that is important, rather than the specific meaning we might choose to assign him. For instance, following Robert Fitch’s rather vitriolic history of postmodern New York City, we might argue Kong represents the 30, 000 displaced citizens that previously occupied the site where the World Trade Centre once stood, or the similar number of blue-collar workers that were made redundant when the city forcibly de-industrialised its docks to pave the way for an expansion of the financial sector, who in a last gasp rise up and attempt to reclaim the space as their own only to be brutally and definitively crushed. The unprecedented prosperity of the 1990s, driven almost entirely by the bullish financial sector based precisely at the World Trade Centre, has obliterated even the memory of the social upheaval that preceded the building of the World Trade Centre and I imagine in the wake of September 11, no one will even be allowed to mention it, much less acknowledge it. My point is that if we turn the whole thing round and treat the entire narrative of King Kong as the elaborate pretext for this one scene which, fittingly, is placed at the end, namely Kong’s plunge from the summit of the World Trade Centre, then we can ask: what does this space gain by being inserted in this particular narrative?

Why would anyone choose Kong to dramatise the towers? Maybe it is because the scale of the towers can best be represented by showing them to dwarf even the gigantic Kong? It also reproduces the fantasy scenario that the city really is a jungle, indeed, it is a more lethal jungle than the one Kong once ruled over as a God. From a purely spatial point of view, a creature was needed that could first of all climb the tower thus giving the camera an excuse to track up the building, and then be large enough to actually be seen from the ground so the camera could get a perspective shot of the buildings and then be big enough to fall right through the earth itself. The properly problematical dimension of this question comes into the fore the more vigilantly we pursue the synchronic – we might even call it the ethical – dimension. And it is via this pathway that we might come to some idea as to how cinema might resolve its ‘present crisis’ the origins of which are of course glaringly apparent. Mindful of the thousands who died in the collapse of the original buildings, no-one who will want to watch anything so frivolous as a King Kong encounter. Nor, I expect, will the excised footage of a spider-web between the two towers be restored to Spiderman. Would anyone dare to make it a ghost story and suggest the new will somehow be haunted by the old? For obvious reasons, such a narrative structure would seem apposite to the next generation of World Trade Centre buildings. It is beyond question that whatever is built there will be standing on a platform of bodies, albeit in cosmic dust form. Perhaps for this reason, because it is a secret everybody knows, the Poltergeist format will not used. Yet such a narrative would have the advantage of providing a structure in which the past in both its ultra-mundane and its traumatic mode could plausibly be brought into the present without the artifice of either flashback or (perhaps worse still) ‘nostalgia mode’. It is doubtful anyone would be crass enough to stage a chase scene on it, or risk evoking the threat of its destruction á la Towering Inferno.

Probably the only option that will work is some kind of romantic comedy which deflects attention away from the trauma with its emphasis on the human element. Thus my guess is that it will be a movie version of the TV series Mad About You that is assigned the task of healing New York. Let me briefly explain why I think this. For a start, it is a romantic comedy, and as is well known all romantic comedies are essentially therapeutic in aim; their basic narrative structure revolves around the need to find the means of ‘solving’ someone’s personal life crisis. Often this crisis is attributed to the city as the most direct cause of one’s malaise – countless stories set in New York City blame the city for the emptiness of one’s existence. Now it will be the trauma of loss that will need healing. In narrative terms, this means the city needs to learn to love again. Since it is inconceivable that either Paul or Jamie should be killed, this healing will take place one step removed from the main protagonists – it might involve Jamie’s sister, or maybe Paul’s cousin, which has the advantage of subtlety.

The other major advantage of this narrative solution is that it offers a properly postmodern means of dealing with the specific crisis at hand, namely how to dramatise the new space. As a documentary filmmaker, Paul might be assigned the task of recording the construction of the new building, or perhaps it might be given the job of preparing a visual archive for the destroyed buildings. Either way, the problem of confronting the new space can be confronted as a problem, which is in reality the least problematic way of doing it since it avoids making any kind of judgement. As a marketing consultant, Jamie might be charged with promoting the new space, which given that it will undoubtedly cost several billion dollars to build will be in need of thousands of premium tenants. As such, she may well be charged with purging the bad memories associated with the disaster – thus the central drama will be about the conflict between the apparently incompatible need to remember what has happened and the commercial imperative to move on. Framing this problem in terms of a romantic comedy, however, will keep the issues carefully contained, thus preventing any undue outpourings of grief or rage.

Works Cited

de Certeau, Michel, The Practice of Everyday Life [trans S Rendall], Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984

Deleuze, Gilles, Difference and Repetition [trans P. Patton], London: Athlone Press, 1994

Fitch, R, The Assassination of New York, London: Verso, 1993

Klein, Naomi, No Logo, London: HarperCollins, 2000

Jameson, Frederic, Signatures of the Visible, London: Routledge, 1992

Morris, Meaghan, “Great Moments in Social Climbing: King Kong and the Human Fly” in B Colomina (ed) Sexuality and Space, Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992


  1. For instance, the difference between an unbranded pair of runners and a Nike pair of runners may only be the presence or absence of the swoosh, indeed the shoes may be identical in every other respect but in the logo-trained eyes of many that one small distinction is not merely enough, it is everything. Klein’s analyses give substance, then, to Debord’s speculation, which Jameson readily endorses, that the image is the final form of commodity capitalism.
  2. For an evaluation of this and a variety of other readings, see Morris 1992

About The Author

Ian Buchanan is Senior Lecturer at the School of English and European Languages and Literatures, University of Tasmania.

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