Of the city, Walter Benjamin wrote that “to lose one’s way, in a city, requires some schooling. Street names must speak to the urban wanderer like the snapping of dry twigs, and little streets in the heart of the city must reflect the times of day, for him, as clearly as a mountain valley.” Michel de Certeau, a bit more clearly, wrote that “The moving about that the city multiplies and concentrates– makes the city itself an immense social experience of lacking a place — an experience that is, to be sure, broken up into countless tiny deportations (displacements and walks), compensated for by the relationships and intersections of these exoduses that intertwine and create an urban fabric…” Both writers thought, in other words, that cities are not only spaces but also movements and practices. Streets are not static but change with time and persons present, in that they are pulsing with life more in that instant.
The short, experimental piece CITY OF MY HEART (Kostas Petsas, 2017) seems to agree. Madrid, it appears, is a city of dancing. Petsas juxtaposes images of architecture with dancing feet and music with poetry. In so doing, the film imagines the city as an amalgamation of disparate elements that are able to connect from time to time, in fleeting moments. Moreover, the camera follows this sensibility of synthesis. It starts with a bird’s eye view of a crowded sidewalk, in which people rush by, unconcerned about looking at the camera. It often switches, however. In other shots, pedestrians stand still in front of the camera, or the film gives us a close-up, POV shot, or a wide cityscape that appears to be taken by drones.
This makes for a stylistically coherent piece, despite its seeming restlessness. If a city is more than its businesses, governments, and corporations, if it—in fact—a different city at every second in every day, then it must be captured through the vacillations of everyday life, be it from a bird’s eye perspective or from the point of view of its denizens. While the film struggles to illustrate it a larger point, it nonetheless is a beautiful technical collage of sounds, images, and rhythms.