Mixing transportation studies, film analysis, and urban geography, this article looks at El tren blanco (The white train), a documentary film from 2003 by directors Nahuel García, Sheila Pérez Giménez, and Ramiro García. In light of work by train theorist Wolfgang Schivelbusch and urban geographer Henri Lefebvre, the documentary's interviews with cartoneros—cardboard workers who ride daily into central Buenos Aires to pick up recyclable goods—speak to the alienation and spatialization of class that characterize the contemporary urban experience. Following an urban cultural studies approach, attention is balanced between the social context of Buenos Aires itself and the film as an item of aesthetic value. In the end, it is important to pay attention both to the train car as a space in itself and to the historical and contemporary positioning of the train in larger-scale urban shifts.
Spatial and Social Alienation in the Documentary Film El tren blanco
A Land of Carnivals, Cocktails and Coups: Henri Bergson's Theory of Laughter and the Problems of Travel Guide Humour
Although fictional places have certainly been the hallmark of great literature (William Faulkner, Gabriel García Márquez, Juan Benet), a recent travel guide to the fictional land of 'San Sombrèro' shows that their manifestation in popular culture can be questionable. A Bergsonian reading (Laughter, 1900) of the guide's attempt to pair humour with contrived exoticism yields more discomfort than laughs.
This article explores Paco Roca’s graphic novel La Casa (2015) with attention to the structuring role of architecture at two interrelated levels of analysis. At the level of theme and represented content, the comic employs architecture as a mediator of emotional connections and familial grief. At the level of comics form and visual narrative structure, artistic choices underscore the architectural properties of La Casa’s own construction. Repurposing the notion of ‘iconostasis’ from Andrei Molotiu provides a way of bringing together the reader’s self-directed perusal of the comic’s page and the characters’ self-directed navigation of their grief. The characters’ collaborative construction of a pergola as an architectural addition to their father’s house holds two meanings. It provides a degree of emotional closure, further contributing to the architectural theme of the comic, and it pulls the architectural structure of the work towards a cathartic narrative resolution.
The Shown, the Intervened and the Signified in Duelo de caracoles (2010) by Sonia Pulido and Pere Joan
The graphic novel Duelo de caracoles [Duel of snails] (2010) by Sonia Pulido (images) and Pere Joan (script) recounts a meal of snails shared by friends, a simple premise upon which Pulido overlays complex layouts that elevate the snail to the conceptual level of metaphor, symbol and allegory. A brief analysis of Estudios psicológicos [Psychological studies], a single-page comic featuring snails by Apel·les Mestres i Oñós, outlines basic principles of layout and the representation of subjectivity/interiority that inform subsequent discussion. Pulido and Pere Joan’s comic privileges Thierry Groensteen’s categories of the shown, the intervened and the signified. Pulido’s poetic mode of composition captures the polyphony of group dynamics, occasioning multiple interpretations of the page within and beyond the inter-iconic space.