PRINT January 2007


Doug Aitken

THE IMPLICATIONS of the glass-curtain wall for both cinema and architecture were delightfully suggested in Jacques Tati’s monumental Playtime (1967), a film shot in wildly expansive, stunningly deep-focused 70 mm—critic Jonathan Rosenbaum argues that this was Tati’s vision of the shape of contemporary life—and which took as one of its central characters modernism itself. No doubt inspired by Paris’s edge-city La Défense development begun a few years earlier, the film’s exorbitant set (dubbed “Tativille”) features buildings comprising a wilderness of mirrors and windows through which Tati’s human figures (mostly tourists, aptly) struggle to navigate, crossing one another’s paths but somehow failing to connect. We see a workman asking a building security guard for a light, not realizing that a clear wall stands between them; we see the old city, the “Paris” of Eiffel, visible only as the

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