[ISEA2011] Panel: An­gela Ndalia­nis – Spec­topo­lis: from Dis­ney’s Pro­ject City to Dubai­land

Panel Statement

Panel: Testing New Ground: An Interdisciplinary Discussion on Hybrid Habitats

My re­search ex­am­ines the re­cent urban de­vel­op­ment of spec­tac­u­lar, hi-tech cities such as Las Vegas, Odaiba, Abu Dhabi and Dubai that mar­ket them­selves as cities of the fu­ture; these cities pre­sent po­ten­tial vis­i­tors with their unique utopian vi­sions, which vary from tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments to es­capist re­treats from the ‘real’ world. What binds all of these spaces – in ad­di­tion to their re­liance on sen­sory en­gage­ment and tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion – is their con­nec­tion with the past. Fo­cus­ing on ex­am­ples that will in­clude the City Cen­ter in Las Vegas, the Palm Is­lands and Dubai­land in Dubai, Saadiyat Is­land in Abu Dhabi, and the ar­ti­fi­cial is­land of Odaiba in Tokyo I will also turn the clock back half a decade or so by vis­it­ing Walt Dis­ney’s early re­search and ex­per­i­ments with con­struct­ing a utopian city of the fu­ture. In this pre­sen­ta­tion I will ex­plore how the theme park Dis­ney­land be­came a test­ing ground for Dis­ney’s ob­ses­sion with re­al­iz­ing sci­ence fic­tional fu­tures and with trans­form­ing the urban en­vi­ron­ment into a utopia that was both tech­no­log­i­cally in­no­v­a­tive and spec­tac­u­larly en­ter­tain­ing.

  • An­gela Ndalia­nis is As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor in Screen Stud­ies at Mel­bourne Uni­ver­sity (AU). Her re­search fo­cuses on con­tem­po­rary en­ter­tain­ment cul­ture, media his­to­ries and the trans­me­dia col­li­sions of films, com­puter games, tele­vi­sion, comic books and theme parks. Her pub­li­ca­tions in­clude Neo-Baroque Aes­thet­ics and Con­tem­po­rary En­ter­tain­ment (2004), The Con­tem­po­rary Comic Book Su­per­hero (ed­i­tor, 2009), Sci­ence Fic­tion Ex­pe­ri­ences (2011) and The Hor­ror Media Sen­so­rium (Mc­Far­land. In press, 2011). She is cur­rently com­plet­ing the book Spec­topo­lis: Theme Park Cul­tures, which looks at the his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural in­flu­ence of the theme park.