Our contemporary life now in the early 21st century is completely formed by the fact that the 20th century was the century of the moving image – the moving image changed our way of thinking, moving around and seeing things.
Wim Wenders (2003)
Ever since the Lumière brothers filmed La Place des Cordeliers in Lyon in 1895, the city has been associated with cinema. Using examples, I will first show how filmmakers have made use of city locations as background, as character as well as subject – and how this might affect our perception of cities. I will then proceed to discuss how in turn cities have made use of cinema and in the last part I will introduce the idea of a reflective practice based on the observational camera. Using my own moviemaking experiments I will demonstrate how cinematic observational methods, based on William Holly Whyte’s New York street project (Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, 1988), can be utilized to reveal the hidden narratives layers of the urban landscape.
Ultimately my approach aims to demonstrate that the camera eye can act as a revelatory device in providing us with the perceptual tools to grasp complex urban phenomena.