Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Since we had technical difficulties during our presentation this morning, I decided to post the slides on Los Angeles as a 'postmodern city' for those who are interested.

Recalling General Motor’s Futurama, at New York City’s 1939 World’s Fair, the landscape of the new city is to be built not around the needs of people but the needs of automobiles. To scholars like Reyner Banham, Los Angeles represents the epitome of this highway city. In his Los Angeles, the Architecture of Four Ecologies (1971), the critic describes L.A.’s built environment as one consisting of four ecologies: surfurbia (which are the beaches), the plains (which are central flatlands), the foothills (which are the privileged areas of Bel Air and Hollywood), and autopia. The last category labels the highway as its own spatial entity within the landscape of the city.

The machine behind the world of autopia is the car, which is what really determines how the freeway develops, later jointing it in a binary evolution of a more complex, flux space. It also corresponds to the sociological developments in this ecology; ideas of individualism, cars that evoke Manhattan’s sidewalk flaneurs, the hip, and the prosperous each fueled by an urge of visual representation. It is clear that the customized form of one’s vehicle is as significant as one’s own identity.


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