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CMS 573 A: Aesthetics

Meeting Time: 
M 2:30pm - 6:20pm
LOW 117
Braester profile photo
Yomi Braester

Syllabus Description:

THE COURSE inquires into the growing symbiosis between digital media and urban space. Urbanists stress how space is produced as much by social constructions as by material structures. Both social and material means have now become reliant on digital mediation. Space has become virtual, not only in being constituted through software and interfaces but also in that it relies on the rhetoric of new media.

The course uses core texts in media studies to examine keywords used in in urban and media studies to better understand how they have defined the discursive outlines of both files and to suggest a critique of their impact. These terms include, among others:

  • immersion (walking in the city / Virtual Reality)
  • layering (urban palimpsest / Augmented Reality)
  • modularity (scale / montage)
  • mobility (transport / mobile screens)
  • globalization and loss of local ecologies
    (degenerate utopia, junkspace / networks, viral media)
  • memory ((sites of memory)
  • cyborg existence (urban screens, smart city / interface)
  • surveillance (panopticon / cameras)


 TENTATIVE SYLLABUS (to be finalized in consultation with seminar participants):

 IMMERSION (walking in the city / Virtual Reality)

Certeau, Michel de. 1984 [1980]. “Walking in the City,” in The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 91–110.

Dyson, Frances. 2009. Sounding New Media: Immersion and Embodiment in the Arts and Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press. CHAPTER 5

Grau, Oliver. 2003. Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion. Translated by Gloria Custance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. CHAPTER 4

Grosz, Elizabeth. 1992. “Bodies-Cities,” in Sexuality and Space, edited by Beatriz Colomina, pp. 241–254. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. (ESSAY)

Hansen, Mark B.N. 2006. Bodies in Code: Interfaces with Digital Media. New York: Routledge. INTRODUCTION

Lefebvre, Henri. 2004 [1992]. Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life. London and New York: Bloomsbury. CHAPTERS 3, 5.

Turkle, Sherry. 2009. Simulation and Its Discontents. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Pp. 9–42.

 LAYERING (urban palimpsest / Augmented Space)

Manovich, Lev. 2006. “The Poetics of Augmented Space,” Visual Communication 5, no.2: 219–240. (ESSAY)

Mitchell, William J. 2003. Me++ : The Cyborg Self and the Networked City. Cambridge: MIT Press. CHAPTER 10

 MODULARITY (scale / montage)

Eisenstein, Sergei. 1988, Nondifferent Nature: Film and the Structure of Things. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 123–165.

Mitchell, W.J.T. 2007. “Back to the Drawing Board: Architecture, Sculpture, and the Digital Image,” in Die Realität des Imaginären: Architektur und das digitale Bild, eds. Jörg H. Gleiter, Norbert Korrek, and Gerd Zimmermann. Weimar: Verlag der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, pp. 13–20. (ESSAY)

Padan, Yael. 2017. Modelscapes of Nationalism: Collective Memories and Future Visions (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press). CHAPTERS 1, 2

Smith, Albert C.2004. Architectural Model as Machine: A New View of Models from Antiquity to the Present Day. Amsterdam: Elsevier. CHAPTER 4

Stewart, Susan. 1993. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Durham and London: Duke University Press). CHAPTER 2

FILM: Jia Zhangke, The World

 MOBILITY (transport / mobile screens)

Mitchell, William J. 2003. Me++ : The Cyborg Self and the Networked City. Cambridge: MIT Press. CHAPTERS 4, 8

Verhoeff, Nanna. 2012. Mobile Screens: The Visual Regime of Navigation. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. CHAPTERS 1, (2), 4, 5.

(degenerate utopia, junkspace / networks, viral media)

Harvey, David. 2000. Spaces of Hope. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 159–179.

Hertz, Garnet and Jussi Parikka. “Zombie Media: Circuit Bending Media Archaeology into an Art Method.” Leonardo, Volume 45, Number 5, 2012, pp. 424–430. (ESSAY)

Grace, Helen. 2007. “Monuments and the Face of Time: Distortions of Scale and Asynchrony in Postcolonial Hong Kong,” Postcolonial Studies, 10.4: 467‒83. (ESSAY)

Jameson, Fredric. 2003. “Future City.” New Left Review, no. 21, pp. 65–80. (ESSAY)

Tweedie, James. 2010. “Delirious Cities and Their Cinema: On Koolhaas and Film Studies,” Public Culture 22 (2), 369-397. (ESSAY)

FILMS: George Lucas, THX 1138; Farocki, THX 1138

 MEMORY (sites of memory)

Connerton, Paul. 2009. How Modernity Forgets. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CHAPTER 4

Elsaesser, Thomas. 2008. “Digital Cinema and the Apparatus: Archaeologies, Epistemologies, Ontologies” in Bruce Bennett, Marc Furstenau, and Adrian MacKenzie (eds.), Cinema and Technology: Cultures, Theories, Practices. Houndmills: Palgrave/ MacMillan, 226‒240. (ESSAY)

Huyssen, Andreas. 2003. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Stanford: Stanford University Press). CHAPTER 1

Nora, Pierre. 1989. “Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire.” Representations, No. 26, pp. 7-24. (ESSAY)

optional: Boyer, M. Christine. 1994. The City of Collective Memory: Its Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments. Cambridge: MIT Press. 1–30; 421–476.

 CYBORG EXISTENCE (cyberspace / interface)

Galloway, Alexander. 2012. The Interface Effect. Cambridge: Polity. INTRODUCTION

Halpern, Orit. 2014. Beautiful Data : A History of Vision and Reason since 1945. Durham: Duke University Press. INTRODUCTION

Kittler, Friedrich A. 1996. “The City Is a Medium.” New Literary History 27.4, pp. 717-729. (ESSAY)

McQuire, Scott. 2008. The Media City: Media, Architecture and Urban Space. Los Angeles: SAGE. INTRODUCTION

Mitchell, William J. 2003. Me++ : The Cyborg Self and the Networked City. Cambridge: MIT Press. CHAPTERS 1 AND 2

Virilio, Paul. 1991. The Lost Dimension. Translated by Daniel Moshenberg. New York: Semiotext(e). CHAPTERS 1 and 3.

optional: selections from McQuire, Scott, Meredith Martin, and Sabine Niederer, eds. Urban Screens Reader. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2009. SELECTION

SURVEILLANCE (panopticon / cameras)

Amad, Paula. “From God’s-Eye to Camera-Eye: Aerial Photography’s Post-humanist and Neo-humanist Visions of the World.” History of Photography 36, no. 1 (2012): 66–86. (ESSAY)

Bauman, Zygmunt, and David Lyon. 2012. “Liquid Surveillance as Post-panoptic.” In Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation. Cambridge: Polity, pp. 49–67.

Coaffee, Jon, and David Murakami Wood. 2008. “Terror and Surveillance.” In The SAGE Companion to the City, eds. Tim Hall, Phil Hubbard and John Rennie Short. Los Angeles: Sage. (ESSAY)


Manovich, Lev. 1996. “On Totalitarian Interactivity (notes from the enemy of the people)”; (ESSAY)

Žižek, Slavoj. 2002/ “Big Brother, Or the Triumph of the Gaze over the Eye.” In Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother, edited by Thomas Y. Levin, Ursula Frohne and Peter Weibel. 224–7. Cambridge: MIT Press. (ESSAY)

Catalog Description: 
Inquiry into such areas as the sensory perception, cultural valuation, or close analysis of cinema and media. Formal, theoretical, and philosophical approaches. Content varies. Offered: AWSp.
Last updated: 
January 27, 2020 - 10:10pm