Modern architecture: an analysis of the Iconic vision in film
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In reaction to the academic revivalism of the nineteenth century, early modern architects sought a radical departure in form that would reflect a new spirit. Flowing, open spaces and bold, abstract forms, their use of materials in unusual ways, and the establishment of artificial lighting as a new element in design distinguished their buildings. For the young generation of this time, Modernism became an avant-garde rallying point that symbolized the liberated lifestyle that one could lead by living, working, and playing in the new industrial world. Many factors contributed to the popularization of modernism throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The allure of this new style proved as enticing to media artists such as fashion photographers and comic book artists, as it was to moviemakers. No other media-driven vehicle provided as an effective and widespread exposure of architectural imagery as the cinematic medium. The adaptations of modern architecture for the silver screen provided filmgoers with an optimistic view of society. By filming highly stylized architecture, filmmakers sought to exceed audiences' expectations of what the future would hold for them by suggesting possibilities that they never dreamed of before. In the context of the Depression and the subsequent, overwhelming sense of pessimism of that time, the allure of this heightened version of reality became the dream of audiences. This new visual appeal lent itself to futuristic films with otherworldly settings. Fritz Lang's 1927 classic, Metropolis, was one of the first to associate modern architecture with a vision of the future and Andrew Niccol's 1997 film, GATTACA, is one of the latest. It is one of the great ironies of the modernist movement that movies, the 20[th] century's greatest egalitarian visual art form, took modern architecture's collectivist vision and transformed it into a fantasy of privilege, only to be enjoyed by the extremely wealthy. In the aftermath of the September 11[th] tragedy in New York City, its important to ask ourselves what cultural forces contribute to the iconizing of certain architectural monuments in the world's subconscious. Are these icons valid? And most importantly, is it something we, as a society, should remedy in order to prevent other acts of terrorism?
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 36-39).
Johnston, Benjamin Michael (2002). Modern architecture: an analysis of the Iconic vision in film. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from