Keller Easterling

An emergent genre of urban porn, urban music video or urban trailer now promotes the global city building epidemic. In the typical template for these videos, a zoom from outer space drops through clouds to reveal the location of a new world city.

The stirring music of an epic adventure or western accompanies a swoop through shimmering cartoon skylines, resorts, suburbs and sun flares. A deep movie-trailer voice repeats all the mantras of free trade and incentivized urbanism to which foreign investment has become addicted to no taxes, no bureaucracy, streamlined customs, and deregulation of labor or environment law. This new free zone paradigm, often no longer the fenced in warehousing compound of just 30 or 40 years ago, nevertheless harbors grisly, stabilized forms of labor abuse, and it still fails to return optimal economic results. But egged on by global consultancies, the zone is now bathed in redemptive rhetoric and treated as the necessary signal for entry into a global marketplace.

This selection of promotional videos, from among scores of others, demonstrates how contagious the free zone has been all around the world with examples from Tunisia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Ecuador, Kenya, Taiwan, Afghanistan, UAE, Lithuania, Malaysia, India, Libya, Nigeria, Holland, Laos, Azerbaijan, Gabon, Tanzania and Kuwait. Comically drunk on heroic urban aspirations the videos distract from their inherent violence as they mix things like fantasy environments, Hegel quotes and buildings shaped like diamonds or dolphins.

Visit Storefront for the video compilation.

Webcast: Improving Reality: Lighthouse, Brighton, UK

Webcast: Improving Reality: Lighthouse, Brighton, UK

September 3, 2013