“Possible City: legacies of trauma in media space” presented by Bird


Session Title:

  • Metainterfaces and Mediaspaces

Presentation Title:

  • Possible City: legacies of trauma in media space




  • Electronic art occupies a transmedial space with other media including film, television, streaming video and, as the paper asserts, architecture. These forms of media are charged with the politics and cultural value of space, and these are often mediated through the image of the city: a media-space. This paper takes as its lens the mediated image of a mid-size, mid-western city: Winnipeg, Canada. It sets up a discussion of the image of this city by considering key examples of (industry-based) narrative media shot here, before moving on to works of independent film and media art. Industry film frequently repurposes Winnipeg’s urban spaces to depict other cities – Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit – to tell stories of crime, and worse. The paper makes the case that what visiting filmmakers are in fact “buying” is a heritage of historical pain: the legacy of colonialism embodied in urban space, indeed hidden there in plain sight. This legacy has only begun to be visible to most Canadians, but it has been there for all to see as harvested and displayed on the screen, a sign or symptom of a deep malaise. A more complex relationship between city and image is revealed by what is done with the same urban spaces by independent film artists – and architects. Their crop, which is explored last, exposes more completely the potential for new relationships between city and image, buyer and seller, authenticity and fiction, colonial legacy and possible city.