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Virilio, Paul (1932–)

  • By: Barney Warf
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

An important, if little understood, theorist of social and spatial change is Paul Virilio—the so-called high priest of speed, a planner, a historian of technology, a photographer, and a philosopher of architecture and cinema. Other than military service, his formal education included the study of art at the École des Métiers d'Art as well as phenomenology at the Sorbonne.

Impressed by the events of World War II, Virilio's work is grounded in the practices of the military, and he regards the culture of speed as driven primarily by its needs, whose conquest of the tyranny of distance extends repeatedly into civilian life. Virilio takes as his point of departure the intersections of military technology and the experience of speed, underscoring the machinic qualities of time and ...

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