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Imaginary Apparatus

Imaginary Apparatus

New York City and its Mediated Representation

By (author) McLain Clutter


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  • A unique analysis of the relationship between media policy and urban design
  • Investigates the influence of visual media on New York's built environment during the 1960s and 1970s
  • Sheds light on a little known aspect of New York's recent history, featuring a wealth of previously unpublished material
  • Includes DVD with the entire film What is the City but the People?
Full Description

During John V. Lindsay’s Mayoral tenure in New York, 1966-73, the city created innovative policy intended to draw on-location media production to New York’s streets. Simultaneously, the New York City Planning Commission and associated offices produced a wealth of documents that reflect conceptual and aesthetic influences of various visual media. American architect McLain Clutter undertook to analyse to what remarkable extent the effects of these two areas of political ambition were interrelated. In his new book Imaginary Apparatus, Clutter describes the relationship between New York City and its mediated representation at the conjuncture of these circumstances, tracing the interrelation of their attendant cultural, economic and aesthetic valences. The second part of the book explores the legacy of Lindsay’s policies by analysing their effects on New York City’s built environment. Clutter illustrates his argument with a large selection of photographs and film-stills, many of them previously unpublished, and with original documents from various archives. This groundbreaking new book is rounded out with a DVD featuring What is the City but the People?, the film version of the study Plan for New York City of 1969, a unique document that has never before been publicly available. Contents: Introduction – The introduction first locates Imaginary Apparatus relative to previous scholarship on the relationship between media and urbanism, and then introduces the term apparatus as it has been used by Michel Foucault and his followers, and has it has been used in a related tradition in media theory – as a critical concept for the methodology of this book. Part I THE APPARATUS – The Apparatus describes a complex interweaving of media production and urban design policy in New York City during the John Lindsay mayoral administration. Part II THE CITY – Chapter 1, Spectatorship: The first essay is titled Spectatorship. This essay chronicles a 1972 study of the effects of New York City’s 1960 zoning policy that granted developers a floor-area-ratio bonus for providing plaza space at the ground level. Chapter 2, Scenography: The second essay is titled Scenography. The essay traces the appearance of historic and often blighted areas within New York in film and television in the late 1960s and early 1970s – a development that would have been impossible without the conjuncture of Lindsay’s media production policies and specific business developments in Hollywood discussed in The Apparatus and the parallel development of an elevated valuation of these areas evident in policies produced by groups within the New York City Planning Commission created by Mayor Lindsay. Chapter 3, Ecology: The final essay, Ecology, establishes a connection between the apparatus described in the first part of the book and emergent ecological thinking in Lindsay’s Planning Commission.

About the Author

McLain Cutter is an architect and assistant professor at the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Park Books
3rd Aug 2015
World excluding Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, United States, Canada, and Japan
250 mm x 150 mm
200 Pages
65 color, 70 b&w
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