»Here You Leave Today«. Aesthetic Proper Times in Theme Parks
»Here You Leave Today and Enter the World of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy«: since 1955, a plaque with these words has welcomed visitors to Disneyland, letting them know that they are about to enter a place that is removed from the ordinary current of time. Instead, theme parks such as Disneyland, which as genuine heterotopias are distinct from the rest of the world also in temporal matters, are governed by their own temporality, which results from the interaction of the themes selected by the park, the form individual form elements used to bring these themes to life, the speed variations that inherent in any visit to a theme park (mechanical accelerations and decelerations in rides, waiting lines), and the visitors’ perceptions. This project seeks to examine the production and the perception of these ›aesthetic proper times‹ in theme parks by focusing on three related issues:
- The representation and the perception of the past and the future in theme parks both as a result of processes of selection that are inextricably linked with the specific cultural contexts in which the park is situated as well as as the product of the park’s immersive multi-media offerings. We will focus here on the examples of the representation and perception of classical cultures in theme parks and of the »Tomorrowlands« in Disney’s theme parks.
- Form elements and temporal structures as mutual prerequisites for the emergence of an ›aesthetic proper time‹ in theme parks. In theme parks, ordinary time and temporality are replacd with a more complex temporal arrangement, which is constituted by various interacting temporal layers and structures. The latter assume material form in the park’s individual elements, which, conversely, produce the individual layers and structures.
- Theme parks as products of the postmodern aesthetic. On the basis of the perception of time in postmodern culture, we seek to situate theme parks within the broader context of postmodern aesthetics. This approach also needs to take into account the antecedents of the theme park, e.g. amusement parks, world expositions, and Vauxhalls, as well as their relationship to a specifically modern perception of time.