“The flaneur and the urban writers who style themselves after [Benjamin are] merely part of the urban landscape, and hardly the most attractive one.” – Susan Buck Morss
Paris, France. Historically and in present day, the city serves as an iconic patron to literature, architecture, music, technology, dance, theatre, gastronomy, art, urbanization, etc. Collectively these elements weave into an intricate tapestry which sets the city apart from the well-known list of world capitals frequented annually by professionals and tourists alike.
But in the midst of Summer 2011 while taking a summer school course through New York University it became apparent that in order to truly understand why ‘visual and cultural media’ moves one through Paris, either consciously or subconsciously, I would need to move any preconceptions I had about the city into the recess of my experience portfolio. Only then would I truly be able to walk amongst the city free to observe, interpret and evaluate how today’s media landscape is interacting and following up with the everyday consumer. As research accumulated with each new visit to a memorial site and walk around town (sans direction), pointed evidence revealed exactly why Paris will always remain a Moveable Media Feast.
The organization influence related to this project stems from analytically reading two distinct authors and their respective works: Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project and The Flaneur, the Sandwichman and the Whore: The Politics of Loitering by Susan Buck-Morss. While both titles attempt to apply a navigation system to the cultural, urban and social contexts surrounding Paris, the projects each writer began to clarify still remain unfinished to this day. As Benjamin notes in his work appropriately, “It is highly characteristic that technical work on Paris should be inspired by classical history” so with this mentality, the challenge to dissect Paris through its core and to study her nuances stands as an eternal Herculean labor. At the ultimate best, any individual pursuing this academic discipline can only hope to strike out, and begin to embrace this life long pursuit of knowledge.
Benjamin’s anthropological study and material collection process was a 13 year labor that involved countless hours of categorizing, cataloging, and notating different thematic elements all indicative to 19th century Parisian life. In the same vein but almost four decades later, Buck-Morr revisits the “Flâneur concept (i.e., strolling in a locale to experience it)” identified in the Arcades Project and reopens a whole new investigation as to what elements weave together and meld into the urban Parisian landscape? What has changed, what remains the same, and how will we look at Paris through a modern lens?
In referencing Benjamin’s and Buck-Morr’s models, finalizing this Case Study Collection eventually required an extensive comparison and review of all collected images. The diverse pool represents infinite media examples and contexts surrounding the question – Why does ‘visual and cultural media’ in Paris consistently influence, direct, and shift participants within the city and more often than not give little regard to their personal inclinations? As a result, five individual convolutes – Consumption, Transport Screens, Urban Spaces, Art and Analog – outline distinct research sub categories. Separated, each grouping reflects upon a nuance quintessential to French culture, but collaboratively they address a larger concept that ‘visual and cultural media’ are a powerful force affecting consumer behaviors.
SlideShare Presentation Link – SlideShare.net/SocialMediaDelivered/moveable-mediafeast-am