This article, and the research out of which it springs, has a number of points of origin; it may also have more than one point of conclusion even as it argues that the current manifestation of Las Vegas could well be read as its last. This is not to say that Las Vegas will cease to create its new versions of itself; after all, this is one of the main sustaining factors of Las Vegas’ success in the last two decades as a new Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard has arisen from the demolitions and redesigns of the original Las Vegas Strip of the 1950s and 1960s. What is argued for here is a reading of Vegas as a terminal point within American culture and particularly within its visual realms. Las Vegas’ place within the dynamics of American visual and exhibition culture comes as the latest in a sequence which, since the nineteenth century, has included among its manifestations World’s Fairs, side shows, freak shows and travelling carnivals. America’s experiments in the visual domain have been updated in both the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries in a variety of spectacular forms and entertainment zones (Disneyland, EPCOT, the new Las Vegas). Vegas is the ultimate incarnation of a carnivalised display culture, the city’s casino Strip reclothed primarily as a theme park for digital camera-toting tourists than as a resort for dedicated gamblers. The possibility that the current incarnation of Las Vegas of late 2009 and 2010 will be the last Vegas hovers as a spectral remnant of the economic downturn and financial collapse of 2008, marked by the unfinished skeletons of projected new casino hotels on Las Vegas Boulevard and by a sudden reversal of fortune for the nation’s favourite gaming location.
|Number of pages||1|
|Publication status||Published - 22 Nov 2014|