Mexican Modernity: The Avant-garde and the Technological Revolution, Volume 3
Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize (Modern Language Association) 2005
In Mexican Modernity, Ruben Gallo tells the story of a second Mexican Revolution, a battle fought on the front of cultural representation. The new revolutionaries were not rebels or outlaws but artists and writers; their weapons were cameras, typewriters, radios, and other technological artifacts, and their goal was not to topple a dictator but to dethrone nineteenth-century aesthetics. Gallo tells the story of this other revolution by focusing on five artifacts that left a deep mark on the literature and the arts of the 1920s and 1930s: the camera and its novel techniques for seeing the modern world; the typewriter and its mechanization of literary aesthetics; radio and poetic experiments with wireless communication; cement architecture and its celebration of functional internationalism; and the stadium and its deployment as a mass medium for political spectacle.
Gallo traces the ways artists and writers, armed with these artifacts, revolutionized representation by breaking with the traditional modes of production that had dominated Mexican cultural practices: Tina Modotti rose against the conventions of "artistic" photography by promoting a radically modern photographic aesthetics; typewriting authors rejected the literary precepts of modernismo to celebrate the stridencies of mechanical writing; and young architects abandoned older building materials for the symbolic strength of reinforced concrete.
Gallo uncovers a secret history of Mexican modernity that includes a number of fascinating episodes: the pictorialist backlash against Modotti and Edward Weston; the postcolonial Remingtont typewriter; Mexican radio in the North Pole; the campaign to aestheticize cement through journals and artistic competitions; and the protofascist political spectacles held at Mexico City's National Stadium in the 1920s.
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MEDIA AND MODERNITY IN MEXICO
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abajo advertising aesthetics of cement Amundsen Andrade Andrade's Apollinaire architecture artistic autographic avant-garde Azuela Brehme broadcast Buen Tono building calligram camera celebrated Chapter concrete cult value cultural depiction Detroit Industry Diego Rivera discourse network Edward Weston El Universal Estridentistas Excélsior factory figure futurist Gladkov's Guzman Ibid inaugural inspired invention Jalapa Jalapa Stadium Jara Jara's Kittler Kodak Kyn Taniya letters Lettre-Ocean literary literature Los de abajo Manuel Alvarez Bravo Maples Arce's mass ornaments material mechanical mechanogenic medium ment Mexican Revolution Mexico City modern mural National Stadium novel Oliver typewriter painting photograph pictorialist poem poet political polvo postrevolutionary Press produced projects radio radiogenic Remington representation revolutionary Roald Amundsen Silva symbol tech techniques technological artifacts Tepito texts textual ticnica Tina Modotti tion Tolteca Tono's transform typewriter's Underwood Universal Ilustrado utopian Vasconcelos Veracruz visual Walter Benjamin wireless workers writing machine wrote York