“Here You Leave Today’: Ästhetische Eigenzeiten in Themenparks”

In the context of the SPP (Schwerpunktbereich – Priority Programmes) 1688 – “Ästhetische Eigenzeiten. Zeit und Darstellung in der polychronen Moderne”, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (German Research Foundation) has granted 3-year funding for the project “‘Here You Leave Today’: Ästhetische Eigenzeiten in Themenparks”, coordinated by Filippo Carlà and Florian Freitag (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz). The project will officially start on the 1st April 2014 and last till the 31st March 2017.

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, as genuine heterotopias, are distinct from the rest of the world – also in temporal matters – and are governed by their own temporality. This is the result of the interaction of the themes selected by the park, of the ways individual elements bring these themes to life, of the speed variations that are inherent in any visit to a theme park (e.g. mechanical accelerations and decelerations in rides, waiting lines) and, finally, of the visitors’ own perceptions.
This project seeks to examine the production and perception of “aesthetic proper times” at theme parks by focusing on three related issues:

1. The representation and the perception of past and 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 the product of the park’s immersive multi-media offerings.
This section consists of two sub-projects, dealing with:

1a. The representation and perception of the past on the example of Classical Antiquity, and particularly of ancient Greece as represented, performed and “brought to life” in different theme parks on different continents. This will enable an investigation of the value which, against different cultural backgrounds, classical Greece is loaded with.
1b. The representation and perception of the future – the Tomorrowlands – in the various Disney parks.

2. 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 replaced with a more complex temporal arrangement, which is constituted by various interacting temporal layers and structures. The latter materialises in the park’s individual elements, which, conversely, produce the individual layers and structures.

3. 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 exhibitions, and Vauxhalls, as well as their relationship to a specifically modern perception of time.
Homepage of the project: Here you Leave Today