Panoptic visions or possessing the metropolis
Art History, 32, (2) (doi:10.1111/j.1467-8365.2009.00665.x).
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The role of sight in the experience of the metropolis as a cultural artefact had a special significance in the opening years of the nineteenth century. The visual register of the city was at once static – the panoptic vision – and fluid – the mobile and subjective gaze of the flâneur/euse. This scrutiny of the city as cultural capital operated on several levels. I want to demonstrate the complexities of the interaction of city, consumer/viewer and the role/agency of the textual/visual interlocutor. Any exploration of London as cultural capital must take into account this broader pan European phenomenon. The aim here is not to produce a comparative history, but rather to benefit from the specific points of contact between London and its near neighbour Paris as regards the consumption of the city and its emergence as cultural capital by a range of publics. My frame is the Benjaminian notion of the city as fragment or miniature as played out in his Arcades Project
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