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The Urban Spectator: American Concept-Cities from Kodak to Google (Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture) Paperback – February 9, 2010
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“This imaginative revisionist history of American urbanism starts from early traces of a city-dweller’s ‘possessive spectatorship,’ made possible by the hand-held camera, to the ‘digital possessive’ of our information age. Gordon’s quicksilver account moves easily though multi-city examples of architecture, film, advertising, world fairs, radio, and urban planning, eventually arriving at the Database City―a city with no content but which grants access to content. This may sound uninviting, but you can trust Gordon to take theorists and practitioners where they need to go.” (Michael Dear, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley)
“In this brilliant cultural analysis of urbanism, Eric Gordon shows that one of the distinctive qualities of American cities is the way they have been shaped as ‘concept cities’ by the emergent media practices of their times. The persuasive power of Gordon’s innovative analysis lies in the way he reads these mediated urban spaces as texts: from the ‘White City’ at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair and the handheld Kodak camera that was ideally suited to capture it, to Times Square and the cinematic spectacle that helped create an audience for its sensorial excesses, to Hollywood Boulevard’s modular redevelopment guided by the contemporary logic of database narratives found on mobile phones, electronic games, and Google maps. Through such examples, Gordon demonstrates not only how media practices give urban spectators a sense of mastery over the city, but also how the city as sensorium has been such a pivotal force in shaping mass media.” (Marsha Kinder, Director of The Labyrinth Project and Professor of Critical Studies, USC School of Cinematic Arts)
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For an academic book, this is nicely written and it is handsomely designed, too -- with lots of photos. Great book for anyone interested in cities or in visual media, especially photography.