Suspending Disbelief: Toward an Image Economy of the Mexican "Miracle”

Quadrant: Design, Architecture, and Culture

This project discusses the official visual culture produced during Mexico’s midtwentieth century “miracle,” a period of spectacularly uneven economic growth and modernization experienced between the late 1940s and late 1960s. It analyzes the political and ideological implications of the visual representations through which Mexico’s single-party state and its allied corporate interests promoted this process of modernization globally. The project focuses on five types of design artifacts defined by these constructions: traveling exhibitions of Mexican culture crafted for international audiences, which circulated globally during the 1960s; aestheticized representations of Mexico’s industrialization in official visual culture; the promotion of the modernization of Mexico City’s urban infrastructure through images; the design of spaces for hospitality in the Mexican capital during the 1960s; and the carefully crafted confusion of images of Mexico’s real and perceived modernization that defined the language of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, the largest propaganda event of the "miracle." Inscribing these artifacts within the busy image economy of the Cold War, this book contributes to our understanding of the key role that images played in its geopolitical conflicts. The project also explores new ways to conceptualize the interrelation between visual representations of technological and design artifacts, and their consumption as part of a mass media economy.

University of Minnesota