a nice and interesting post on space and culture about examining the importance of the crowd in the modern era:
.. the web site for the Stanford Humanities Lab collaborative research project on “the rise and fall of the crowd — particularly the revolutionary crowd — in the Western sociopolitical imagination between 1789 and the present”.
The site includes introductions to historical crowd theorists like Canetti, Kracauer, Park and Tarde, as well as historical quotations about multitudes and flows, isolation and rejoicing. Particularly fascinating for word geeks is the semantic history section, which looks at the etymology of ‘mob’, ‘multitude’ and ‘crowd’, as well as the “abysses of meaning” in the Chinese word for crowd: ‘zhong’. Small thematic exhibits include the underground palaces of the Moscow Metro, images of contagion, accounts of agoraphobia and state-organised mass formations – which reminds me of the amazing Bodies in Formation.
The post on space and culture mentiones a link to Bodies in Formation shows a documentary online exhibition of conditions of authoritarian eastern regimes, which once had started on the foundation of revolutionary ideas.
The ritual of the display of strong, young, beautiful and disciplined bodies offer an attractive reading of a society as whole and consequently legitimized the leadership as a promoter or creator of such a society. Since its origins in the early 19th century, the symbolic potential of coordinated movements of thousands of trainees has been exploited by various movements and regimes, varying from the extreme right to the extreme left. The purpose of this exhibition is to explore how this symbolic potential was confronted with and transformed by the communist ideology in mass gymnastic rituals all over Eastern Europe.