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Picturing the Modern City as a Panorama

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
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While a panorama view of a city is a fairly commonplace and distinguishable image it remains without critical inquiry. The word panorama was coined in 1792 to market a large-scale circular painting that gained international popularity during the nineteenth century. The panorama image is investigated through large circular paintings, engravings and etchings, and panorama photographs that extend from the daguerreotype (1839) to the vintage silver print of the Cirkut camera (1904). The panorama is examined as a historical and discursive representation of modernity and modernization to consider its conditions of production and social relations as inseparable from technological change and economic growth and development. The panorama world-view implies prosperity and progress. The modernizing cities of London, Paris, San Francisco and Vancouver provide topographical views to examine the ambitiously complex composition and scale, and structure and space of the panorama. The panorama?s central permutations are recognized as a view from a high vantage point, a full force of pictorial record displaying objective fact, and an optical realm of illusionary structure. The spatial and social implications of the panorama are interpreted as successfully unifying discordant and disruptive experiences of modernity through spatially resolving the ambiguities and uncertainties of an increasingly global world. Panorama vision and space are interpreted through theoretical influences of Roland Barthes, Jonathan Crary, Michel Foucault, Henri Lefebvre and Georg Simmel.
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