The present article concerns the early-twentieth-century avant-garde's aestheticizing of a new vision occasioned by the advent of human flight. It focuses on the project that best reflects this vision: the Futurama, an exhibit created by the American industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes for the 1939 New York World's Fair. The Futurama's status as the "number one hit show" of the fair derived largely from its theatrical technique of seeing: spectators literally gazed down on an American utopia as if they were aviators in a low-flying airplane. Conceived during the golden age of American aviation, in the 1920s and 1930s, the Futurama exemplified the common utopian belief that the perspective from an airplane would usher in new spatial dynamics that would introduce the city of the future. The enthusiasm for aerial vision evinced a remarkable affiliation between aviation and a modernist logic of looking at the world. The fact that the Futurama spectator's aerial viewing became enmeshed in broader conceptualizations of twentieth-century visuality reveals the crucial presence of what could be called an "aesthetics of ascension" in the avantgarde imagination of the future city.

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