. …THE MEDIATED CITY Part 2 LOS ANGELES…50 years in the global village – an examination of the modern city in the technological age
October 01-04, 2014, Woodbury University Photo by Serouj
2014 marks the fifty-year anniversary of one of the 20th century’s most influential texts – Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan not only introduced the media-as-the-message, it presented the world with the metaphor of the global village.
Half a century after the publication of this revolutionary text, The Mediated City – Los Angeles – Conference seeks to explore the multiple ways in which the city of today is experienced, perceived, represented and constructed as a ‘mediated’ phenomenon.
Today, we are perfectly attuned to the photo-realistic imagery of design presentations; daily experience the ever present moving imagery of the commercialized urban landscape; and still watch the ‘city symphonies’ of a new generation of filmmakers. We are familiar with the digitally laden experience of the contemporary public transport ride, and still see ‘the city’ as a site, subject and protagonist in cinematic productions from California to Mumbai. In this context, urbanists imagine the future of an interconnected ‘smart city’ and the design process itself becomes mediated, as architects simulate user behavior as a form of ‘space syntax’.
As McLuhan identified in 1964, today’s global village is a place of simultaneous experience; a site for overlapping material and electronic effects; a place not so much altered by the content of a medium, but rather, a space transformed by the very nature of medias themselves.
For some, this is little more than the inevitable evolution of urban space in the digital age. For others, it represents the city’s liberation from the condition of stasis. For scaremongers, it’s a nightmare scenario in which the difference between the virtual and the real, the electronic and the material, the recorded and the lived, becomes impossible to identify. In every case, corporeal engagement is placed at one remove from the physical world.
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