Review: La Ville dans touts ses états Fabbio La Rocca. Paris: CNRS Editions 2013
“La Ville dans tous ses états” surveys the ambiances and affective understandings of the city. These include the proliferation of iconic images of specific cities and of moments in city life that are channeled through cinematic and other visual media. In addition, in this book one also encounters the city-as-movie-character, with a persona built up from movies set in actual cities, the virtual cities that serve as sets for science fiction films such as Luc Besson’s Fifth Element, advertising images, graffiti and digital media. All of these images function as metaphors for social interactions in city spaces. Debord sought to eliminate alienation through situations as the ‘concrete construction of momentary ambiances of life and their transformation to a more passionate quality’ through play, dérive or ‘drifting’ in the city, ‘hijacking’ or détournement of slogans and images and a ‘unitary urbanism’ where people could live spontaneously. Urging the reader to ‘think with their eyes’, Flabio La Rocca draws on the sociology of Simmel, the communication studies of Canevacci and the cultural studies of Baudrillard and Perniola to consider how the notion of ‘situations’ and the atmosphere of public life has been hijacked and commercialized as hype for cities, urban redevelopment and a consumeristic vision of urban life.