New Cinematic Cities: Animating the Digital Image of the City 2010

Cinema and the modern city have been linked to each other as emblems of modernity. While cities like New York and the way we use them have changed relatively little, today’s digital imaging technologies like Google Earth have opened radically new possibilities for looking at and thinking about cities. What has been missing is a new cinematic language for the city that exploits these new modes of representation.
In this class students appropriated images and ‘footage’ from Google Earth to create short 3 ½ minute animated films that explore the contemporary city and its unique manifestation through readily available digital imaging technologies. They explored various strategies for linking image, sound and text, in an attempt to develop a cinematic language for this new digital image of the city.



SURFACECITIES is a research and teaching initiative, established to study our changing images of cities in the context of a new visual culture developing around information technologies. This website hosts a range of projects and papers developed by faculty and students in the Department of Architecture at Cornell University. We are using information technologies to explore new ways of reading and handling cities for a variety of purposes, from environmental activism to extreme commuting. Our approach is to create dynamic, graphic and situated projects that extend or challenge established theories of urbanism. This work cuts across numerous fields (architecture, information science, and urban studies) in order to challenge traditional conceptions of the city that are static, depersonalized, and focused primarily on built form. In addition, it suggests new configurations of people, computers and cities that shift the discourse on human-computer interaction towards human-computer-environment interaction.