Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
fashion as their diegetic counterparts, Frank and
Benny. In this regard, the fi lm would provide an
interesting case study for audience-based
research on perceptions and readings of urban
landscapes in fi lm, and the extent to which these
are imbricated within the wider symbolic econ-
omy of cities such as Liverpool. Playing on per-
vasive ideas of a 'global consumer village', Cox
and Davies' Liverpool is a space caught in the
homogenizing web of global consumerism. A
space in which the valorization and reifi cation
of the act of consumption eclipses all semblance
of local urban and cultural specifi city. The 'Liv-
erpool' we encounter in Three Businessmen is
thus both a mirror and a sustained spatial cri-
tique of the idea of Liverpool promoted in Liv-
erpool: World in One City . 12
and temporal dynamics of space as it is lived,
further informs processes of urban 'spectacular-
ization' or 'cinematization': a condition diag-
nosed by Guy Debord in the Situationist classic
Society of the Spectacle (1992). After its fash-
ion, the image kills .
As writers such as Highmore (2005) and
others have demonstrated, a shift in attention
towards the study of social and cultural rhythms
provides a productive framework by which to
navigate cultural texts as embedded elements in
the production and consumption of everyday
urban landscapes. The rhythms of Liverpool:
World in One City and Three Businessmen are
key to our reading and mapping of these texts
as spatial practices . As we have seen, the MTV-
style montage aesthetics of the Capital of Culture
marketing fi lm structure a temporal geography
that inhibits 'lingering' or 'dwelling'. A prepon-
derance of signs and rapid visual sound bites
(or 'site bites' to quote Jonathan Meades 13 ) con-
struct the immaterial architecture of a city being
primed for hyper-consumption and touristic
spectacle. The short, fl eeting, contractual encoun-
ters with the mostly a-spatial and non-place-
specifi c image-spaces on screen defi ne an urban
experience increasingly subject to what Abbas
(1997, p. 28) refers to as a 'new localism', where
the local is rendered mutable, dislocated and
semiotically unstable by the seemingly unstop-
pable encroachment of corporate globalization.
By contrast, Frank and Benny's more pon-
derous navigations of the city unfold in 'anthro-
pological space' (de Certeau, 1984, p. 117).
Placing human actors within the deterritorial-
ized spaces of the city, the spatio-temporal
structuring of the sequence shot draws closer
attention to the embodied interactions of the
travellers as they journey through a dislocated
urban landscape. The 'peripatetic' mode of spa-
tial practice which underpins the cinematic
geographies of Three Businessmen , as with the
travel and journey fi lms of Theo Angelopoulos,
a director renowned for his use of long, complex
sequence shots (e.g. The Travelling Players ,
1973), privileges the affective and embodied
act of walking (Wallace, 1993; Roberts, 2005).
As a consequence, the spectator is drawn into
Liverpool: Spectacular
City/Disappearing City
[I]mages fragment; they are themselves
fragments of space. Cutting things up and
rearranging them, découpage and montage -
these are the alpha and omega of the art of
image-making . . . It fetishizes abstraction and
imposes it on the norm. It detaches the pure
form from its impure content - from lived time,
everyday time, and from bodies with their
opacity and solidity, their warmth, their life and
their death. After its fashion, the image kills.
(Lefebvre, 1991, p. 97)
In his later work on social rhythms and tempo-
rality, Lefebvre explores the dynamic interac-
tions between space, time and the body. Putting
forward the case for 'rhythmanalysis' (2004) as
a mode of critical urban praxis, Lefebvre's theo-
rizations on time and 'rhythmicity' (Highmore,
2005; Wunderlich, 2008) are intricately
entwined with his writings on space and every-
day life (Mendieta, 2008, p. 150). As indicated
in the above quote (from The Production of
Space , his most-cited work), for Lefebvre time
and space are inseparable: co-originary and
co-determining (Mendieta, 2008, p. 151). The
semiotic excess of an image-saturated space of
representation, detached from the embodied
12 For a discussion of the role of fi lm as a spatial/architectural critique, see Keiller (2007).
13 See note 3.
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