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.