ISSN: 2717-4417

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Urban Planning, Qazvin Branch, Islamic Azad University, Qazvin, Iran.

2 Faculty of Urbanism, Fine Arts Campus, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.



- As a social space and cultural production of modernity and the capitalist economy, the metropolis has been encoded to convey the preferred meanings.
- The metropolis cannot present itself beyond the limitations of any strictly positivistic outlook, and it requires semiotic and phenomenological models like reading and experiencing.
- For a complete understanding of the city and the basis for its social realities, it is necessary to explain the hieroglyphs (hidden language) of the modern metropolis.
- Concern for spatial images, urban mindscape, and reading what has never been written provides the best way to decipher the hidden language of the modern metropolis.
- Cinema is one of the most important factors in the reconstruction of spatial images and urban mindscape.
The metropolis plays an important role in the contemporary society. It features prominently in the public imagination as the very site of modernity and capitalist economy that has been encoded to convey the preferred meanings. Thus, it can be understood as an amalgam of objects of cultural production. To understand the metropolis is–to some extent–to understand our present age. As a patchwork quilt of traces of human existence, the metropolis could not present itself beyond the limitations of any strictly positivistic outlook, and it requires semiotic and phenomenological models like reading and experiencing. Thus, it might be read as a text, with its forms deciphered and its meanings understood. This means that the metropolis itself does not exist, and can only be understood through its various manifestations.
In the reading of a city, or indeed any cultural artifice, it is important to know that meaning is never univocal. A city–any city–is always open to a variety of interpretations, and meaning must always remain plural and contested. Because there is no single way of understanding the metropolis, everything depends on how one views the metropolis and who views it. The reader, the “lover” of cities, must therefore be open to a range of “readings”, which go well beyond straightforward, rational analyses to open up the “poetry” of the city.
Theoretical Framework
Mindscape and spatial images play an important role in the experiencing and understanding of the city, as they result from a combination of different factors such as literature, art, media, myth, and narrative. As a German cultural theorist, Siegfried Kracauer, puts it, where the hieroglyphics of any spatial image are deciphered, the basis for social reality presents itself. Any Marxist-inspired cultural theorist would argue that what we see on the surface is the product of deeper underlying forces, in order to understand which we need to interpret the surface level. The unconscious nature of surface-level expressions reveals the hidden logic behind these phenomena.
Cinema is one of the most important factors involved in the reconstruction of spatial images and urban mindscape. Emphasis on the relationship between cinema and the city denotes emphasis on culture and how the city is represented thereby. Apart from anthropological fieldwork, nothing compares with watching movies made for a community’s domestic market when the community is to be known. Most broadly viewed, cinema represents both the real and the imaginary. Architecture and urban architecture make up the body of the city for the presence of both lives, and cinema is a novel platform for re-reading the relationship between the body and the soul of the modern city.
Quantitative and qualitative content analysis methods were used in this research to explain the hieroglyphs of the modern metropolis of Tehran in the representation of the mysterious language of the city. For a concrete study of the city through official narratives, its representation in the selected movies of 2016 was studied, and seventeen movies were selected after the sample size was specified using the purposive qualitative sampling method.
Result and Discussion
According to the findings, we can conclude that the language of the modern metropolis of Tehran is discontinuous and disintegrated under the effect of the modernity paradigm and capitalism. We can claim that it is not possible to experience the metropolis of Tehran through movies although it makes up the location in most Iranian movies. Movies made in Tehran have failed to introduce the physical space of the city in the sense intended by Balzac and even Zola. This makes it more important to analyze this absence. Tehran has created its own specific metropolitan type. Thus, a cold, unfriendly stereotype defines the characteristic of people living in a Tehran. Modernity has been manifested there in a negative sense, and the city has turned into a refuge for the darkest aspects of modernity.
Finally, it is important to know that the city must be read by those who seek to create, shape, and transform it. Their reading of the city crucially conditions their writing of the city text and its buildings, streets, street furniture, etc.
Thus, the task of any theorist intending to analyze the metropolis is to act like a detective, interrogating the traces and revealing the secrets. The metropolis therefore lends itself to research as a textual object. It constitutes a series of spatial image hieroglyphics–which may be deciphered in order to provide access to deeper underlying questions about society.
This research has been extracted from the Ph.D. thesis of Nazila Rahidpour, entitled “Explanation the hieroglyphics of Tehran modern metropolis with emphasize on reading, experiencing and memory”, defended in the Department of Urban Planning at the Islamic Azad University of Qazvin, under the supervision of Dr. Seyyed Mohsen Habibi and advisory of Dr. Manouchehr Tabibian.


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