Metropolis and photography are the two conductors in Antonio Rafele’s Representations of Fashion proving the mundane cycle of life and death that is experienced each day. Rafele prescribes it as a “sequence of isolated moments” created by natural time that hangs our obvious looming death at the hems of our subconscious, pushing society to scour for methods of distraction. These distractions now come through the temporariness of television, web, photography and fashion, which have become so crucial, they’ve fallen into a basic need. They’ve become methods for society to fulfill an emptiness dug from the predictable one-way road of our lives full at the belly with illusions of success and disillusionments that arrive thereafter.
Dissecting the “The Metropolis” by Georg Simmel and W. Benjamin’s “The Passages”, Rafele offers the formula of the individual’s growing relationship with discontinuous media that took root at the birth of the metropolis, eradicating societies who’ve experienced life through instances of solitude and self-motivated accomplishments. It was when the population grew denser that identities began to be shaped by the gaze of others, pushing people to bend and mold to the choreography of expectations. At this time, Rafele highlights, the creation of new media, such as photography, became popularized. It allowed and continues to allow people to capture moments of our lives that become pictures in a dusty shoebox, ephemeral and dust-ridden at best.
Rafele’s essay is an excellent inspection of a world still breathing through the streets of our neighborhoods and the alleyways of our consciousness. Giving us a punch in the stomach, he uncovers a deeper and eery relationship with fashion and the devices of our world that envelop us in a dream.
For Simmel’s “The Metropolis”: http://www.altruists.org/static/files/The%20Metropolis%20and%20Mental%20Life%20(Georg%20Simmel).htm
Here's a trailer of a classic film capturing the metropolis in both the title and the setting: