Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Representation of Space/Place in Tsai Ming Liang's the Hole

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Representation of Space/Place in Tsai Ming Liang's the Hole

Article excerpt

Abstract

Place is a complicated concept in urban design literature that does not lend itself to a definite interpretation (Arefi, 1999). Different meanings and purposes can be transferred to people when they think about place; some emphasize the epistemological role of the place while others concentrate more on its ontological dimension. Discussion about representation of place has been a prominent thread in film studies. This is a traditional and worthwhile agenda, which has been addressed by film scholars since the 1930s. Although most film scholars work within an aesthetic theoretical framework, they rarely engage with urban design literature to address this question and little is known in the film field about urban design theories that can be employed to analyze a movie.

Here, through a case study of The Hole (1997), the most famous movie of Tsai Ming Liang, for whom spatiality is the biggest obsession, I aim to understand how theories of urban design can be used to analyze a movie. This paper argues that for Tsai, place is defined as an event, personal or political, rather than a fixed social or ontological concept and openness, and "change" defined the place instead of boundedness and permanence. Furthermore, this paper argues that Tsai creates a utopian cinema that is based entirely on the characterization of the place and marks the Hole as a cinematography report on space. In this regard, a utopian movie like The Hole can function as an educational tool that acts to spark a debate amongst citizens and essentially cause them to think critically about their relation to the world.

Key words: Space; Place; Tsai Ming Liang; The Hole; Urban studies

Amir Ganjavie (2012). Representation of Space/Place in Tsai Ming Liang's The Hole. Cross-Cultural Communication, 8(3), 37-45. Available from URL http://www.cscanada.net/index.php/ccc/article/ view/j.ccc.1923670020120803.1199 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/ j.ccc. 1923670020120803.1199

INTRODUCTION

Place is a complicated concept in urban design literature that does not lend itself to a definite interpretation (Arefi, 1999). Different meanings and purposes can be transferred to people when they think about a place; some emphasize the epistemological role of the place while others concentrate more on its ontological dimension. However, in general, it is possible to detect three schools of thought in relation to space/place theories: phenomenological, social constructionist, and multidisciplinary. The first approach is particularly interested in defining the essence of humans beings in relation to place, by emphasizing the role of physicality of place (Heidegger, 1977; NorbergSchulz, 2007). The second approach is more interested in showing the place as a social construction shaped mostly by human agency (Harvey, 1996). The third approach aims to combine the strengths and weaknesses of the two previously mentioned methods by suggesting that the sense of a place is shaped both in relation to the physicality of place and human agency (Lippard, 1997; Relph, 1976; Thrift, 1994).

Discussion about representation of place and space (and urban space in particular) has been a prominent thread in film studies. This is a traditional and worthwhile agenda, which has been addressed by film scholars since the 1930s marked by the works of Arnheim, Bazin, and, and then the mise en scene and auteur critics of the 1950s-1960s, and later not then the contemporary film theorists of Baudry, Heath, MacCabe, and Bordwell and others. Although most of these film scholars work within aesthetic theories, they rarely sought to engage with urban design literature to address this issue. This provides us with an opportunity to discuss about urban design literature and to know what lessons these narratives may provide in helping us analyzing the movie. In this regard, analyzing movies is crucial for urban design as movies characterize the way we built images of our world, and even because of the reflection of the flow from the camera's eye, the contemporary society can know itself (AlSayyad, 2006). …

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