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    Vassar College
  Feb 25, 2018
Catalogue 2017-2018
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URBS 271 - Visual Urbanism

Semester Offered: Spring
1 unit(s)
(Same as MEDS 271 ) This course examines correspondences between the emergent metrop-olis and practices of urban spectatorship. We approach the moderniza- tion of vision as an aspect of capitalist urbanization, as we engage the shifting media forms that have refracted and regulated modernity’s urban conditions from the mid-19th century to the present: camera obscura, magic lantern, window display, crime photography, film noir, snapshot, broadcast television, billboard, hand-held video, SimCity, Google earth, CCTV, immersive VR. Issues we investigate include: the increasing predominance of visual culture in urban everyday life; the distracted attention of the urban spectator as a mode of modern subjectivity; the role of the visual in shaping both official and vernac- ular understandings of the city; the use of city image and urban brand in urban development; the merging of physical and information space as urban landscapes become media-saturated environments; urban surveillance and the use of the visual as a vector of modern political power. Throughout, we approach urban visibility as a fiercely ambiva- lent force: both a source of spectacle and a tool to render legible the hidden powers that structure urban everyday life. Readings include works by Roland Barthes, Jonathan Beller, Walter Benjamin, Guliano Bruno, Susan Buck-Morss, Christine Boyer, Rey Chow, Elizabeth Currid, Jonathan Crary, Guy Debord, Anne Friedberg, Eric Gordon, Tom Gunning, Miriam Greenberg, Frederic Jameson, Rem Koolhaas, Kevin Lynch, W.T.J. Mitchell, Venessa Schwartz, William White, and Raymond Williams. Lisa Brawley.

Two 75-minute periods.

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