Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Tativille
What is the Metropolis? Or rather, what is meant by Metropolis? In 1973, the Italian philosopher – and eventual mayor of Venice – Massimo Cacciari offered the following response: “the Metropolis,” he concluded, “is the general form assumed by the process of the rationalization of social relations.” It is a grim diagnosis, to be sure, but perhaps all the more formidable because of it: the modern city, for Cacciari, is both the site and medium of capitalist development – it is the form, as it were, that Capital assumes in the 20th century, but also its abstraction, its image. Taking Cacciari’s view of the Metropolis as its point of departure, this course will examine, slowly and in great depth, one of the period’s most poignant reflections on the conditions of the modernist city and the mass subject that inhabits it, Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967). The topic is by nature interdisciplinary; accordingly, course readings will range widely – interviews with Tati, critical assessments of his films and other works of modernist practice, historical accounts of the late ‘60s, critical theory and political writing will be read alongside one another – as will the visual materials – paintings and photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries, other films – consulted and explored. The goal of the course, in the end, will be to acclimate students to the rigors of scholarly research and writing, reading and looking.