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The Indestructible Observer 

One ecology of contemporary blockbuster disaster cinema, is the inclusion of CGI, contributing to an artificial simulacrum of disaster. VFX coats the city like a skin, covering its dilapidation, and its disaster residue in the process. If there were a fire in the forests surrounding LA as there have been each summer, the sky in the disaster film would be blue, because it's rendered in a studio. In this way disaster films exist to mask the disaster condition.


Further, the camera takes an immortal perspective, usually starting from the vertical perspective of the city, using CGI the camera is able to capture the impossible event, moving freely amongst it. The falling city becomes a stage for human drama and the camera an indestructible observer. The shift from a  horizontal to vertical perspective is Hito Steyerl’s focus in her essay ‘In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective’45, where she describes the vertical perspective as a perspective without a horizon where the vanishing point is below the presumed point of impact, there's no future waiting for us, only catastrophe and devastation.46


Hito Steyerl suggests that we are in a time of “free fall” where rules are constantly shifting and we must adapt to unpredictable circumstances. She critiques the systems of power such as the military industrial complex and the capitalist system, comparing these systems to gravity, being the power that holds us to the earth, while social, economic and political forces shape our lives. Through verticality we abandon the rules of gravity, occupying territories in the sky.

Verticality is also the direction of hierarchy and the form through which information flows. Vertical perspective creates the illusion of overview and surveillance. Steyerl discusses 2D map-like grounds, events like 9/11 existing on a 2D plane, creating the simple conflict of us vs them, the west versus Islam. Steyerl notes that we already have a verticalisation of social relations - class hierarchy, social inequalities and vertical politics of domination - the ground upon which these structures are built, is never stable. The vertical perspective aligns itself with the rules of invitation.These representations of the aerial perspectives of today, erase the pilot, erase the subjective point of view, and instead they instate a multiplied, unmanned, vertical point of view. In place of cooperation and community, there are surveillance drones, google maps and walls. In the Vertical perspective there is no horizon in the traditional sense, there is only a frame. In free fall there is no feeling of orientation, above, below, horizon only continuous movement which renders the body still.

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