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22 DECEMBER 2009

Alphaville exists. Everywhere!

"Science–fiction films tell us as much about the time in which they were made as the future they project and between the two moments–the one specific, the other nominal (1984, 2001, etc)–a sense develops of their qualities of prescience and allegorical vision. The enterprise of proposing a world–to–be is always a hostage to the future's fortune. The law of diminishing returns that applies as regards special effects bears this out. How soon before Matrix–era 'bullet time' looks as dated as Douglas Trumbull's 'star gate' pyrotechnics in 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)? Which may explain why Alphaville hasn't aged as badly as other examples of the genre; it finds its 'special effect' in the specifically cinematic resource of light.

But this light, let's remind ourselves, is the light of the past brought to bear on the presence of the future now. Would it be going too far to suggest that, in adding the dimensions of past and future to the present of 1965, Godard was able to set the controls of his particular time machine to withstand the very test of time? There's no shortage of films that seek to travel in time following Alphaville, from Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) and Mauvais sang (Leos Carax, 1986) to Gattaca (Andrew Niccol, 1997) and Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998). There is also the developing genre of what critic Jonathan Romney has named 'steel and glass cinema' which he describes 'as cinema set in the recognisably contemporary urban world but framed and shot in such a way that it becomes detached, not unreal so much as irreal, bordering on science fiction', examples of which include Elle est des nôtres (She's a Jolly Good Fellow, Seigrid Alnoy, 2002), Demonlover (Olivier Assayas, 2002), Cypher (Vincenzo Natali, 2002) and Code 46 (Michael Winterbottom, 2003). Romney claims Alphaville to be 'the mother' of such cinema and with good reason. In the forty or so years separating Alphaville from Demonlover it has become evident that the no–place of Godard's dystopia, with its labyrinth of corridors and lobbies, was already one big non–place in waiting. The presence of the future that Godard was keen to capture back in 1965 has since taken shape as a global nonplace crossing continents and time–zones. 'It may be that we have already dreamed our dream of the future', J.G. Ballard has mused, 'and have woken with a start into a world of motorways, shopping malls and airport concourses which lie around us like a first instalment of a future that has forgotten to materialize.' Or, to put it another way, Alphaville exists. Everywhere."

(Chris Darke, Vertigo Magazine)

This is an edited extract from Chris Darke's monograph on J–L Godard's Alphaville to be published by I.B.Tauris in 2005. Chris Darke is a writer, critic and lecturer on the moving image. His book of selected writings, Light Readings, is published by Wallflower Press. He is also represented, with his film study Chris on Chris, on the DVD of La Jetée and Sans Soleil. See also pages 26 and 38.

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TAGS

19651982198619971998 • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) • 200220032005airportAlphavillebetweenBrazilbullet timecritiqueculture • Dark City (1998) • Demonlover • dystopiaenvironmentfutureGattacainterzone • irreal • J G BallardJean-Luc Godard • labyrinth • lightmall • Mauvais Sang • non-placeRidley ScottSao Paolosci-fiscience-fictionsocial interactionsocietyspaceStanley Kubrick • Stargate • steel and glass cinema • The Matrix (1999)traditionurban

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
10 JANUARY 2009

Reactrix Systems: walk over interactive floor ads

"Ads served by Reactrix (most often cast on the floor by overhead projectors) responded to consumers' gestures, allowing them to literally jump right into what they were selling. In one example, an advertisement for the Sci–Fi Channel's hit 'Battlestar Galactica' allowed those who stumbled upon it to learn about the show's plot and characters by touching spaceships flying by. Another let 'users' kick around a virtual soccer ball that reacted to their movements in real–time."
(Camille Ricketts, 11th December 2008)

[Reactrix Systems has apparently failed to successfully sell its interactive projection technology despite the technologies potential. The idea that consumers are able to ''walk over'' products has also received some criticism from product manufactures.]

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
04 APRIL 2006

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Journeys To The Same Place

"Omnitopia enacts an architectural and perceptual enclave whose apparently distinct locales (and locals) convey inhabitants to a singular place. An imperfect amalgam of Greek and Latin roots constructing an 'all–place,' the term draws its lineage from utopia (non–place) and heterotopia (other–place) to reveal the shift from singular totalizing narratives to overlapping contradictory narratives. A key distinction from heterotopia, however, is omnitopia's shift from separate locale (park, church, graveyard, motel) to complete enclosure that approximates all of urbanity. This enclosure does not reside elsewhere, but 'everywhere.' Heterotopia offers a social safety valve from public life. Omnitopia, on the other hand, constructs a synecdoche of the world, one that is necessarily and strategically incomplete. While the 'entire world' cannot reside within the omnitopian enclosure, one encounters enough of the world to ignore what has been elided. The archetypal omnitopian may be the traveler who flows from international airport to atrium hotel to enclosed shopping mall to theme restaurant to yet another international airport – all without ever walking the streets. Moreover, as our archetypal omnitopian flows from airport to airport, she or he comes to experience them as terminals to the same place."
(Andrew F. Wood)

Wood, Andrew. (2003). A rhetoric of ubiquity: Terminal space as omnitopia. Communication Theory, 13(3), 324–344.

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TAGS

airport • Andrew Wood • arcade • atrium hotel • contradictioncontradictory narratives • enclosed shopping mall • everywhere • heterotopiainternational airportmall • omnitopia • overlap • overlapping • placeplacelessness • same place • shopping mall • synecdoche • themed restaurant • travellerutopia
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