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- 1 2021-02-03T11:55:13-05:00 Nathaniel Isaacson 9a313a8f88ba8c43c463465ac9070fc9a3b50539 Coal smoke and the locomotive are among the few things that anchors this image in the visual repertoire of the other train images. Nathaniel Isaacson 1 plain 2021-02-03T11:55:13-05:00 Nathaniel Isaacson 9a313a8f88ba8c43c463465ac9070fc9a3b50539
- 1 2021-02-03T11:56:30-05:00 Nathaniel Isaacson 9a313a8f88ba8c43c463465ac9070fc9a3b50539 Aside from the human beings to the left, even the trees are rendered in a different style than those trees that help lend perspective in the depictions of trains in China. Nathaniel Isaacson 1 plain 2021-02-03T11:56:30-05:00 Nathaniel Isaacson 9a313a8f88ba8c43c463465ac9070fc9a3b50539
This page is referenced by:
The Trottoir Roulant in Western Media
The Moving Walkway in the French and English Press
Huhtamo, Erkki. "(Un)walking at the Fair: About Mobile Visualitis at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900." Journal of Visual Culture, V. 12.1: 61-88.
The image of a triple-decker, trackless train car powered by a steam engine is most likely an imagination of the trottoir roulant, or plateform mobile, a moving walkway that circled the exposition grounds. The verbal description—the cost of riding, and the height of the deck—most closely match descriptions of this device. Lacking other points of reference for a novel mode of mass transit, the illustrator apparently projected it onto the figure of the train.
Both in Paris, and the United States, the 1900 Exposition Universelle was a sensation well before it began. As early as 1897, extensive descriptions of the planned event, detailing its construction, funding, layout and other minutiae appeared in both popular and popular science Anglophone and Francophone media. During the Exposition itself, Erkki Huhtamo notes that Trottoir-inspired products included pamphlets, board games, postcards, comic strips, novels, and plays (Huhtamo, 2013).
Elsewhere, the advertising in the frontispiece of a weekly pamphlet on the exposition that featured the plateform mobile offered Parisian women the opportunity to smell cosmopolitan—Parfumerie Rigaud offered consumers the chance to smell modern, to smell like an actress, to look youthful or to smell exotic with “Kananga Osaka” perfumes, soaps and facial powders.
To sum up, we have an image of the future, produced two years before the event it depicts. This image offers a vicarious experience of attending a world expo, arguably a vicarious experience of cosmopolitanism in itself. The image was part of an industry of depictions of the expo, which traded in other forms of sensual cosmopolitanism. Finally, the image is entirely inaccurate, but then again, it appears that even photographic evidence of the attraction was regularly staged or doctored. Indeed, one of the most iconic images of the moving walkway to come out of the exposition itself was a doctored image. The woman in this image falling over in a failed attempt to board or disembark from one of the moving platforms, has been essentially photoshopped in.
The Trottoir Roulant - 游觀台
Chinese Description of a Moving Walkway at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle
点石斋画报大可堂版 v. 14, p. 317
Unknown (c. 1897)
“News” could potentially refer to events in China or abroad, past or relatively present. It might also mean events that were yet to occur. Just as Dianshizhai featured “news” about railroad projects nearly a decade past, it also featured news of railroad projects yet to be realized. While the authors imagined railroads and tunnels in Liverpool or Tianjin by liberally borrowing from visual media available to them, they imagined an attraction at the upcoming Paris Exposition in fantastic and vivid detail based on a verbal description of the project.
The Paris Exposition of 1900 was met with anticipation beginning years before the event actually occurred. The pre-modern Sinosphere constructed its political-spatial imagination through a domestic knowledge industry—dynastic histories, poetry collections, gazeteers, visual and textual presentations of tribute missions, and lexicographical efforts like the Kangxi dictionary. The geographic imagination of Sinitic dynasties was constructed through the assembly of bibliographic space. Thus, the western knowledge industry—texts dedicated to assembling the whole of human knowledge based on a clear organizational schema like encyclopedias, compendia, handbooks and the like—were an object of particular fascination. Expositions and museums, which assembled human knowledge and innovation in physical form, applying the organizational logic of the knowledge text to their spatial layout, enjoyed similar attention. News of expositions was a source of fascination for late Qing intellectuals, and in late Qing visual culture. The text reads:
At the Paris World Exposition of 1900, the Frenchman A-lumang (“Mr. Inadvisable”), in his great generosity, seeks to fashion a marvelous machine to dazzle the eyes and ears of visitors from all countries. So he brought his idea to life [in the form of] a travelling observation deck. It is four meters across and over 200 meters long, standing more than 15 meters above ground it will be situated at the entryway to the exposition grounds. Visitors ascend the platform by climbing a ladder; the platform has a capacity of 51,732 persons. It is capable of moving at a rate of 17 to 18 Chinese li per hour, making a complete circuit of the exposition grounds rather than walking. A round trip will cost 50 centimes per rider.
The Chinese text reads:
法國巴里一千九百年開設萬國大博覽會時,法國人阿魯莽過思創一奇器,以眩各國來觀者之耳目,於是獨出心裁創造游觀台,長四吉米二百米突,距地高十五米突,安設于會場之首。 游觀者緣梯登臺,臺上可載五萬一千七百三十二人。 台自行走一點鐘可行中國十七八裡,循游會場縱覽一周,可代足力。 每行一周,計收台價每客五十參雲。
The image, titled “Moving Observation Deck”, features a triple-decker train car, pulled by a steam engine, apparently sans train tracks. The text indicates that this technological marvel was featured at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, France. This image is presentational, not representational. Like other depictions of technology, for example the illustrations in late Qing novels, the illustrator presents the idea of the object, but is not dedicated to visually reproducing either the real object, or the textual description the image accompanies. The reader is offered a vicarious chance to share in the cosmopolitan marvels of a world expo and its curated vision of global relations. The print run for Dianshizhai huabao ended in 1898, but this image appears to depict an event that would not occur until 1900. We are seeing an attempt to visualize the future. The Paris Expo of 1900 was a highly anticipated event, appearing in French and English print media as early as 1897, and making its way to semi-colonial Shanghai. Even seemingly real representations of the attraction were a site for fantastic imagination of how the future might leave some behind.