A Bird’s-eye View of “Urban Renewal”: Media Archeology of the Panstereorama
Venue:Stockholm School of Economics, room 311
(Please see attached pdf for correct formatting, a brief bio, and further details.) The panstereorama (“pan”: all; “stereo”: solid; “orama”: view) was an adapted form of plans- relief as public spectacle. Models of Paris, London, and other metropolises toured within the same showman circuit as panorama canvases and dioramas. The miniature, model city—heretofore a military artifact—was, I argue, repurposed as a mass media approximation of the aerial view. This occurred before relief maps would become available to lay audiences, or indeed before tethered balloons provided genuine aerial views for a paying public. This paper provides a media archeology of the panstereorama phenomenon, from Le Quoy’s 1771 “model in relievo” of Paris; through the box-office successes of late-Georgian London (including the adjacent, commemorative battle version, the “panstereomachia”); to the medium’s ultimate adoption by the early World’s Fairs, whence they ceased to be named “panstereorama” and became a commonly curated part of these new civic events. My overview ends on the problems posed by the accelerated rate of civic infrastructural change and the new networked responses to these changes, considering Robert Moses’ static 1964 model of New York City, and the newly unveiled Chicago Model City at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which promises to continually update the architectural “hardware” of the panstereorama: a materialist “Google Street View”-like commitment to documenting the endless “urban renewal” of the city.
Patrick Ellis is a PhD Candidate in Film & Media at the University of California at Berkeley. His research includes pre-cinematic representations of the aerial view in popular media culture. In 2012, he curated a silent film series on aerial vision at the Pacific Film Archive. A former researcher with the Emma Goldman Papers, he contributed to their book series with the University of California Press.