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Topographies of liminality in 1960s’ New York underground cinema: Peter Emanuel Goldman’s Echoes of Silence (1965)

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In the 1950s and 1960s, western metropolises were undergoing major changes in their structure, some of the biggest caused by adapting urban infrastructure to the new society based on individual mobility and progress. This article investigates the relationship between cinema and the city by focusing on a category of independent cinema that most directly relates to its everyday urban environment. Working with Deleuze’s taxonomic approach of interrogating filmic images regarding the concepts they produce, the co-production of filmic and urban space in 1960s New York underground cinema is analysed through a close reading of Peter Emanuel Goldman’s Echoes of Silence, a study of the bohemian Greenwich Village milieu and its social types. The production of the urban experience through the filmic form of the balade is the main focus. In asking how the movements of a drifting protagonist produce a spatiality that relates to constitutive societal conflicts, this article argues that the filmic images contribute to the way its viewers perceive their urban environment, in that they generate new concepts, not only on cinema but also on the city.
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Keywords: Deleuze; ambiguity; artistic practices; drifter; underground cinema; urban transformation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin

Publication date: 01 March 2016

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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