Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Myoma Cinema - Taunggyi, Shan State, Myanmar

In the Myoma Cinema, what we have is a clear case of "facadicide" - that's fake Latin for murdering a building's facade. At some point in the last ten or so years, some genius had the brilliant idea of slapping this repulsive plastic paneling over the Myoma's original Art Deco frontage. Now it looks more like a giant car stereo than the work of a trained architect. The theater actually dates to the 1950's, back when the art of cinema building was at its peak across Myanmar. You can be sure that what was covered up is far more attractive than what you see.

Out-dated sound and projection systems are often death knells for stand-alone theaters. In such cases, the wealthier multiplex with its corporate efficiency swoops in to corner the market left out in the cold by the ailing stand-alone. Movie theaters, like any structural type, should be kept up to date as much as possible to avoid such fates. Masking a stand-alone's facade, however, the work of an artisan, behind cheap, prefabricated material, ought to be a punishable offense. The perpetrator has recklessly devalued the visual aesthetic of the street-scape to which the theater is a part. As for Taunggyi, it's been violated! Look on with a astonishing boredom.

Crime of the small minded

In an effort to make up for this dullard of a post, I'll leave you with this passage from Ryszard Kapuscinski:
"Our world, seemingly global, is in reality a planet of thousands of the most varied and never intersecting provinces. A trip around the world is a journey from backwater to backwater, each of which considers itself, in its isolation, a shining star. For most people, the real world ends on the threshold of their house, at the edge of their village, or, at the very most, on the border of their valley. That which is beyond is unreal, unimportant, and even useless, whereas that which we have at our fingertips, in our field of vision, expands until it seems and entire universe, overshadowing all else. Often, the native and the newcomer have difficulty finding a common language, because each looks at the same place through a different lens. The newcomer has a wide-angle lens, which gives him a distant, diminished view, although one with a long horizon line, while the local always employs a telescopic lens that magnifies the slightest detail."

(Kapuscinski, Ryszard. 2001: The Shadow of the Sun. Vintage International. p. 171)


  1. great quote!

  2. Kapuscinski is the best travel writer I've ever read. Highly recommended.