Using contemporary Chinese and Hong Kong cinema, the large body of writing on media emanating from Koolhaas and his atelier, and the headquarters for China Central Television as its primary touchstones, this essay examines the relationship between the current media environment in East Asia and the architectural practice and theory produced by Koolhaas. The paper argues that his virtuoso designs and enormously productive critical work reach an impasse at precisely the moment when his conception of cinema is exhausted and he embraces the increasingly influential theoretical model drawn from digital media. While his notion of the generic city is modeled on the film studio set, with its utterly flexible and ephemeral structures expanded to the scale of the city, and his more recent structures embody the promises of a network society, Koolhaas fails to consider other image-making practices that remain vibrant and rely on diametrically opposed conceptions of the moving image, most notably the documentary-derived cinema of filmmakers like Jia Zhangke.

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