Reflections on damaged modernity: Lessons from the iconic architecture industry
Brott, Simone (2017) Reflections on damaged modernity: Lessons from the iconic architecture industry. Log: Observations on Architecture and the City. (In Press)
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For Adorno writing in 1953, Hollywood cinema was a medium of “regression” based on infantile wish fulfillment manufactured by the industrial repetition of the filmic image that he called a modern “hieroglyphics”—like the archaic language of pictures in Ancient Egypt, which guaranteed immortality after death in Egyptian burial rites. From that 1953 essay Prolog zum Fernsehen to Das Schema der Massenkultur in 1981, Adorno likened film frames to cultural ideograms: What he called the filmic “language of images” (Bildersprache) constituted a Hieroglyphenschrift that visualised forbidden sexual impulses and ideations of death and domination in the unconscious of the mass spectator. In his famous passage he writes, “As image, the image-writing (Bilderschrift) is a medium of regression, where the producer and consumer coincide; as writing, film resurrects the archaic images of modernity.” In other words, cinema takes the spectator on a journey into his unconscious in order to control him from within. It works, because the spectator begins to believe the film is speaking to him in his very own image-language (the unconscious), making him do and buy whatever capitalism demands. Modernity for Adorno is precisely the instrumentalisation of the collective unconscious through the mediatic images of the culture industry.
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