Landscapes of Global Capital
tv globe icon link to home The skyscapes of capital
Arthur Anderson01-99

A standard image in the construction of urban landscapes is this corporate skyline shot. This scene features an imposing phalanx of corporate towers that looks rather like a postcard shot - panoramic, inspiring, professionally framed. As a symbol for corporate capital, this imagery makes sense insofar as scenes like this represent an enormous concentration of corporate Capital and condensation of Space.

But unlike postcards which identify their images, this corporate urban center has been fully abstracted from place. We know little about the time and space coordinates of these spaces. This is how it is with most skyscraper images - they no longer possess any ground. Their foundation is in our consciousness, but not in our field of vision. To be sure, a recognizable building shape periodically appears that allows viewers to identify New York City (the Chrysler Building), or San Francisco (the Transamerica Building). But this only reinforces the way in which the signifiers of global cities have been abstracted from geographical location. Decontextualized, skylines can function as icons that now work their magic as Myth - second-order signifiers that have been hollowed out of relations.

Abstraction and Deterritorialization
Cultural Geography
The Architecture of Capital

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