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A Symbol of Modernity

11 November, 2007; 13:11 Leave a comment Go to comments

overview-mood.jpgA couple days ago I was watching TV, and an advertisement, in Swedish, came on for the Chrysler 300C, which I hadn’t seen before, but it looks like the Chrysler designers are borrowing heavily from Cadillac’s new body stylings, with rounded-boxiness and an over-large grill. Also, apparently they are going for the ultra-modern, western aesthetic, because they advertisement showed the car zooming around the streets of a New-World downtown, full of tall, glassy buildings, and one key shot in front of a Rem Koolhaas building….

central_library.jpgOf course, the shot of Koolhaas’s building gave it away in an instant: this was Seattle, the relatively new Central Library that has been lauded widely in architecture circles. From there, one could also make out the Smith Tower and the Columbia Tower, and there was a long shot of the car driving along the Alaska Way viaduct, which might be the most dangerously unstable bit of transport infrastructure in Washington State, but of course the ad made no indication of it.

Also noteworthy was that there were absolutely no shots where you could see the Space Needle. Seattle’s role in the ad was obviously not to be itself, but to be a generic symbol of the modern city. And by doing so, it looked familiar in the abstract, but not like any place that I ever actually lived. It was devoid of life. This is the Seattle that Swedes are seeing on television; fortunately, it is never identified to them as Seattle.

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