The hyper-time city.The Falling Man | Miquel Lacasta

The Falling Man [Richard Drew,2011]

This image represents another jump to the emptiness. It is not necessary to explain the moment in which the photography was taken. The photographer of Associated Press, Richard Drew was, as different many, covering the event, according to the journalistic slang. The image is so brutal that the mere informative fact comes out. In fact the this qualified image, as if about a work of art it was treating itself: he is called The Falling Man.

It is calculated that at least 200 persons jumped of the World Trade Center On September 11, 2001. Of these 200 persons, at least approximately 50 were documented. This image, in which a subject jumps to the emptiness has been one of the most striking. Also it is an image that catalyzes an own speech on the thick significance of jumping to the emptiness. And here one defends that it inaugurates symbolically a new notion of city. Actually more that it inaugurates, that it catalyzes a new time, a deeply urban time. Later we will see it.

The history of the image is the history of Richard Drew, a veteran photographer of press. One of the days seemingly calmer of Drew, it had been this September 11. Drew had to cover a fashionable parade in Bryant Park for the Associated Press, the company where it was working from was doing 31 years. It had moved to the place of the parade before the program began, and it started taking some photos of the models in the process of hairdo and makeup. Suddenly an operator of chamber of the CNN listened in his earphones that there had been an explosion in the World Trade Center. This type of rumors had been common from the car bomb in 1993, and Drew gave few attention until the cámara of the CNN said to him that a plane had smashed in one of the towers.

At his arrival to the scene, Drew I do not notice that both towers were in flames. It was mixed by the multitude, deliberately it was not taking his pass of press, though it centered in photographing the remains in the soil of the impact and to the surprised, open-mouthed people, many of them with cuts produced by the crystal that had worked out dismissed as consequence of the impact.

At any one time it moved up to West Street because it would give him a better angle to photograph the facts and also due to the fact that it was the location of the ambulances for what Drew was waiting for the appearance of many injured men.

According to the statement of this instant of the own Drew: I remain with the people of the equipments of emergency, hoping that the people come, I was standing up together with a very nice policeman of the police station of the district 13, and suddenly he said:

Oh, my God, look at it” I looked up and there were people who was fleeing of the building. They were falling and jumping from the building. There was a woman that started indicating me the people who was jumping, it have should to have seen six or eight or probably more persons throwing itself to the emptiness and I was photographing them as they were going down. We saw a man sticking to the exterior part of the building. It was dressed in a white shirt. We saw it for a long time and while, all these persons were falling down. I was alternating my shots between a scene and other one and at the time an enormous uproar was heard. It did not have idea of that was the building that was falling down. I thought that maybe it was a part of the cover or the front.1

The documentary value of the photography spread massively, has to see in this case with his projection as spectacle and with his functionality as news.

“Both one and another sound determining of the possession. And the possibility of this delight can manage to be more important than the informative or commemorative capacity of the image. In these circumstances the document sees disueltos his features of monumentalidad and his sense of transcendency in the joyful immediacy of the consumption”.2

The aesthetic reality of an image in a culture of masses resides precisely both in the projection of a concept and in the documentary use that potentially this image could suggest.

One has tried to identify the subject that jumps in Drew’s famous image as to Norberto Hernández, though the family Hernández has denied it. In fact the subject that jumps does not have name because actually it has all. Without wanting it, the individual who jumped to emptied on September 11, 2001 it represents all that we saw the live images, and his jump is the jump to the emptiness that the whole humanity gave towards a world and especially an inexplicable time.

The dissolution of the art, the beginning of the instant.

That one that provides to the image of an extraordinary force is precisely the presence of the human figure in the first plane and the regularity of the front of the twin towers as bottom. There does not escape from any spectator the sinister dimension of the scene and the final dramatist who waits for the man who fractions of second before has taken such a radical decision. The composition becomes even more dramatic if it fits, on having observed the strange position of the body of the individual. The shy leg doing an angle of 90 degrees, the hands stuck to the body, the totally vertical position, perpendicular to the plane of the soil, everything indicates that in the precise instant in which the image was taken the individual was alive and presumably conscious. The heart shrinks us again on having thought fleetingly about the dramatically privileged point of view that as a few instants it had the central personage of this brutal graphical construction.

The composition becomes even dwells dramatic if it fits, on having observed the strange position of the body of the individual. The shy leg doing an angle of 90 degrees, the hands stuck to the body, the totally vertical position, perpendicular to the plane of the soil, everything indicates that in the individual is necessary instant in which the image was taken the was alive and presumably conscious. The heart shrinks us again on having thought fleetingly about the dramatically privileged point of view that seize to few instants it had the head office personage of this brutal graphical construction.

There is no possible premeditation, there is no a scenery of the image. The subject in this moment condenses the brutality of an execrable act, the drama of hundreds that as him, they jumped of the building in a Dantesque choreography, confirms the advent of a world order trastocado. A structure based on the implosion of the reality on a lapse of time infinitesimalmente small that everything invades. A reality – instant that expresses across a hyper-time.

What is so of aesthetic premeditation in the absurd mad idea of starring a few planes in the twin towers, which exist of temporary transcendency? Evidently at all.

And nevertheless it takes place, probably due to everything previous, a genuine and extreme idea of cosificación of emptiness, symbolized in the image that the photographer takes. A priori the ethical impact, precisely for the antiethical dimension of the action, and aesthetic, also precisely for the lack of aesthetic model, it is sweeping. The image remains recorded of for life, the image is peeling reflections, ideas, interpretations from the first moment in which we see her. The image is simply an instantaneous critique to the postmodernity that allows in his own daily barbarism that there should arise barbarisms planned as this one.

Nevertheless, contradictory, the chilling image encloses an aesthetic dimension of the first order. Without comes to the cold Karl-Heinz Stockhausen’s critical distancing that it affirmed in the New York Times that the attempt was constituting the major work of art in the whole cosmos, it cannot refuse that the document that registers the desperation of a person who to save his life prefers losing it, is so extraordinarily near to the art as to the pain, or in other words, the impulse of art creates transgressor and the impulse of carrying out acts of violence they are dangerously cercaque there arise barbarisms planned as this one.3

Furthermore, there is a certain interference of the royal thing in the fictitious thing4 in the attempt of the twin towers, if we remember the bosses of the disaster that certain movies have reproduced up to the satiety. For Paul Virilio and for Slavoj Zizek the deliberate showiness of the planned spectacle of the assault of September 11 they demonstrate the truth of Stockhausen’s provocative affirmation, in which it supports that the image of the planes smashing against the towers of the World Trade Center it has been the last and definitive work of art.5

In short we might read that between Yves Klein’s image like initiation action anti-art, the jump of the angel Damiel in Der Himmel über Berlin that des-sacraliza and it trivializes definitively any spiritual conception and Drew’s image, since encapsulamiento of any action (also artistic) in the minimal lapse of time that includes an instant, happens a cycle in which the art dissolves, it is trivialized and finally it loses any possibility of transcendency. The 21st century is probably the first century without the possibility that the art is as we it have known till now. Furthermore, probably the art has not disappeared like in a trick of magic of lounge, probably the art has been fagocitado, absorbed, annihilated by something much more powerful and resistant. Probably the art, it has disappeared, and the executing hand of such a kidnapping, the real instigador of this extreme fact, has been the city.

In the city hyper-time the art cannot exist while transcendent since everything is an instant, everything is now, everything is a city. In the city hyper-time the beginning of transcendency remains abolished.

The collapse of the art like object paradoxically comes from the fact from that the artistic production has automated to hands of the instantaneous thing. While the things are, and they are now, automatically a sound capable of being an art and only it is necessary to summon the look of someone of the multiple cultural actors, in order that these register this reality in any of the formats to the use, in order that a product is considered to be an art. The art in end, already is not in the things, is in the actions and in the attitudes. Paradoxically also, the art is disuelto not by disappearance, but because everything is an art, instead of dissolving in the emptiness, as Klein he was claiming, there is disuelto in everything.

The art, since in a Zen beginning, disappears in the precise instant in which “everything is an art”, in the instant in which it is diluted in the instantaneous thing.

From this point of view, that space that is capable of summoning major congestion of actions, which favors the maximum condensation of attitudes, will be the center of production of any work of possible art / instant, and this place is not other one that the city. The city is a natural support of the hyper-time, and therefore support of the instantaneous thing.

Towards a city hyper-time.

In Drew’s photography, the place where definitively the art will stay disuelto in the all/air and it catalyzes the emergence of a new age, it was the symbolic center of the western world. If there is some place that for years represented symbolically the idea of central place, capable of codifying the maximum expression of the urban condition, and also because not to say it of the urban greed, this one was the complex of the World Trade Center formed by a square and 7 buildings with own ZIP code, 10048.

This coincidence, time/city is an indication to bearing in mind.

The age of the city hyper-time exemplifies a new specific nature of the temporary thing. This re-naturalization of the time structures a new area of relations and paradigms that found a way of conceiving the reality (that already only can be urban). This new time inherits and overcomes both the modernity and the postmodernity, while it does not come structured not identified in relation to a concrete lapse of time.

The new age already it us is post-.

This time is founded on the condition of the instant, of now. It is more, this time has suffered a considerable hypertrophy on having taken up office so much last time, which collapsed on the present of the hand of the postmodernity, since of the future time equally collapsed on the present of the hand of the technological advances. In other words the time now, the hyper-present is the product of taking up office in the instant, so much last time as the future time, so that already it is not necessary to move to and from of the time. Everything is in now.

In addition this time is based on a succession of uncompromising, absolutely superlative and instantaneous events. Without aptitude to repeat itself, and therefore without the possibility of accumulating a tradition, without capacity for the statement. We long the statement, since not, but we have remained without his raw material, the tradition.

The superlative condition of the internal nature of the contemporary time has replaced definitively the possibility of any comparison. For pure definition the superlative thing is simply incomparable. This implies, as underlines Richard Scoffier6, the appearance of a fragmentary, kaleidoscopic universe. The event, physical expression of the city time, corresponds with a singular act, if it is never possible before appeared, a sterile act, without genealogy or premeditation. An act definitively unconditional.

It seems to be difficult to understand that simultaneously that everything passes in terms of instantaneidad des – indexed, we could think at least so about a harmonic management or less structured of our reality. And it is there where we find refuge in the urban thing.

The illusion maquínica of the modernity where a city was capable of setting a linear time, has opened way to species of Urbs ex machina, something like that the city it plans everything, a species of organism of range superior to the human being, with a distributed intelligence that makes it immeasurably complex and that in turn provides us with cover, food, relations and especially, time.

This time comes wrapped with the complexity as central paradigm for the definition of practically all the logics associated with the individual and the collectivity, a time during which, cimienta more than in no other epoch of the humanity a sense of belonging in relation to the urban thing, understood this one as

“aA space-time differentiated for a special type of human meeting, the urban one, in which there registers a widespread and constant exchange of information and that vertebra for the mobility”.7

A time definitively sustained by all that that the city can provide, movement, congestion and condensation. This opens the age of a city hyper-time.

Miquel Lacasta. PhD architect
Barcelona, may 2012


1 HOWE, Peter, Richard Drew, The Digital Journalist, number 110,

2 MOLINA, José Antonio, in

This observation belongs tby Frank Lentricchia and Jody McAuliffe brings over of Don DeLillo’s work in BARTLETT, Jen, Cultivated Tragedy: Art, Aesthetics, and Terrorism in Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, seminario Turning on Rights: Politics, Performance, and the Text, 16-17, on Abril, 2010, organized by Albany’s University.

4 Slavoj Zizek presents the coverage of the attempts of September 11 as a moment of horror to Hichcock’s menare that happens in this precise instant, an intrusion of the royal thing in the fiction, according to the authors SKRADOL, Natalia, SICHER, Efraim A World Neither Brave Nor New: Reading Dystopian Fiction after 9/11, Partial Answers: Journal of Literarure and the History of Ideas, Vol. 4, nº 1, Jerusalem, 2006, p. 151

5 Idem p. 170

6 SCOFFIER, Richard, Les Quatre Concepts Fondamentaux de l’Architecture Contemporaine, Norma Editions, París 2011

7 DELGADO, Manuel, El espacio público como ideología, Catarata, Madrid, 2011, p.17

Es cofundador en ARCHIKUBIK y también en @kubik – espacio multidisciplinario. Obtuvo un Ph.D. con honores (cum laude) en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya UIC y también fue galardonado con el premio especial Ph.D (UIC 2012), M.arch en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, y se graduó como arquitecto en ETSAB Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya . Miquel es profesor asociado en ESARQ desde 1996. Anteriormente, fue profesor en Elisava y Escola LAI, y también en programas de postgrado en ETSAB y La Salle. Fue arquitecto en la oficina de Manuel Brullet desde 1989 desde 1995.


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