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Drive: Journeys through Film, Cities & Landscapes
Iain Borden, Drive: Journeys through Film, Cities & Landscapes, (Reaktion: 2012/forthcoming). AIMS (1) provide an interpretive history of driving as an experience of cities and architecture (2) provide a history of films which have used driving in a particularly significant manner (3) investigate urban space and, in particular, the role that different peoples' experiences play in the history of cities. QUESTIONS This book project explores the experience of driving as a way of encountering, conceiving and remaking architecture and urban space. It draws together new insights alongside other observations of automobile driving made by earlier commentators, investigating how different kinds of driving, at different speeds and on different kinds of road, produce distinct encounters with cities and architecture and, hence, also produce similarly distinct social cultural experiences. In particular, the book undertakes extensive exploration films, videos and other moving images in order to explore the cultural meanings of driving as a spatial experience. Specifically, the project argues that different intersections of speeds, roads, automobiles and histories produce 4 different kinds of political and cultural productions of space: 30 mph, and the cognitive mapping of city streets; 55 mph, and the tourist and existential experience of the countryside; 70 mph, and the contemplative experience of motorways; and 100 mph, and the risk-danger of accelerated real and virtual speeds. Underlying the project is an engagement with current debates about car-usage – arguing that the role of the private car cannot be simply replaced by improved forms of public transport without first understanding, and responding to, the various pleasures and experiences offered by automobile driving. The politics of architecture and urban space is thus seen as a complex intersection of historically-layered and recently-received experiences, ideologies, cultural representations, urban spaces and architectures, and thus as a condition which cannot – or should not – be reduced to purely functional or economic considerations. METHODS Interdisciplinary enquiry involving history, theory, film, photography/video and criticism. Three main research methods: (1) empirical and interpretive historical enquiry into driving using: magazines, newspapers and other published sources; photographs, drawings and other visual sources; and interviews, personal experiences and various ephemera. (2) investigation of over 400 films, movies and other moving images, used both as a way to explore different kinds of spatial experience through driving, and as a way to explore how such experiences are represented and culturally disseminated (3) theoretical enquiry into notions of speed, automobility and mobility using the ideas of Lefebvre, Virilio and other related thinkers. CONTEXTS The research projects sits within the history of architectural and urban experience – the history of architecture after it has been constructed, and investigating the various ways in which cities and their architecture are continually reproduced through different experiences, idea and codings. It also sits within a history of film, providing the first comprehensive overview of the way in which films have made extensive and significant use of automobile driving. DISSEMINATION Book, additional extended chapters and articles, public lectures and film screenings.
1 Researchers
  • The Bartlett School of Architecture
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