Presentations Week Two and Final Review

Robyn: Once again, there was a great variety of interesting presentations, each exploring their own take on the city space and everything we’ve covered on the course. I was very happy with my presentation and I actually found putting it together really interesting. There were so many angles and layers I wanted to explore and everytime I watched Inception I could think of even more I wanted to say. I think I managed to condense it nicely though and cut my points down to the ones I found most relevant to the course – I had to keep stopping myself from just performing a film student analysis.

My conclusion was that the city walker in fact takes prominence when considering representations of the city in Inception. Stemming from the same roots as De Certeau, I argued that the it is the personal experience of the walker that creates their narrative and not the physical, constructed environment in which they find themselves. In retrospect, one point I forgot to emphasise was the fickle nature of the city walker regarding their relationship to the city. Although the walker uses the city to create their own grand narrative, construct their lives, their hopes, their dreams. The walker is also able to ‘re-monumentalize’ a new city if and when required. As Groys notes, “today, when we cease to be satisfied with the life that is offered to us in our own cities, we no longer strive to change, revolutionize or rebuild this city; instead, we simply move to a new city – for a short period or forever – in search of what we miss in our home city”. Again suggesting that the city has this superficial and interchangable layer. Despite the prominent role the city has in the narrative of our lives, it is the personal experience of the spectator that takes prominence, the city walker is the architect of their own journey and the setting for that journey is far from limited to the city space we find ourselves in at any one time.

With regards to the course as a whole, I feel like I have achieved a handful of new insights into the representation and analysis of the city space. Although sometimes it was difficult to make links from the literature to cinematic examples, I certainly think the course has influenced the way I now experience the city as a city walker. Being a foreign student, the city of Amsterdam is playing huge part in constructing my overall experience here and I think that gave me an interesting perspective to consider some of the literature from, particularly Bass and his insiders and outsiders and of course De Certeau. We tried some new approaches to learning with the ipads and kotego cameras which was a different experience from all other classes so far, and although we have already spoken about the pros and cons of these, they were certainly a welcome addition to the class. Looking back at content, I did find that in both classes and presentations, we often dwelled a lot on context where analysis could have been deepened. Maybe one or two big case studies (one fiction, one non-fiction?) in the first couple of weeks where we really explored and applied literature to cinematic representations of the city could have been helpful, especially to help make the expectations of our presentations clearer? But other than that, a very enjoyable and unique course that has certainly opened my eyes and a great way to end the year!

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