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Communicative Cities in the 21st Century

The Urban Communication Reader III

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Edited By Matthew D. Matsaganis, Victoria J. Gallagher and Susan J. Drucker

This book explores the concept of the «communicative city», developed initially by participants in an international Urban Communication Foundation initiative, by bringing together scholars from across the communication arts and sciences seeking to enhance our understanding of the dynamic relationship between urban residents and their social, physical, mediated, and built environments. The chapters are arranged in categories that speak to two larger themes: first, they all speak to at least one aspect of the qualifying and/or disqualifying characteristics of a communicative city. A second, larger theme is what we might refer to as a master trope of the urban experience and, indeed, of urban communication: inside/outside. The research presented here represents social scientific and humanistic approaches to communication, quantitative and qualitative methodologies, and positivist/normative and interpretive orientations, thereby providing a deeper understanding of the multi-level phenomena that unfold in urban communities.
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11 Origami Urbanism amid the Flat City: An Omnitopian Analysis of Commercials Depicting Mutability in Urban Life

Flat Urbanism: An Origami Counterpoint

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CHAPTER ELEVEN

Origami Urbanism amid the Flat City

An Omnitopian Analysis of Commercials Depicting Mutability in Urban Life

Andrew F. Wood1

This chapter analyzes a genre of television commercials recognizable for their invocation of origami urbanism, a process through which viewers are trained to imagine themselves as producers, not mere consumers, of their circumstances by their idealized interactions with editable urban environments. Origami urbanism reflects a broader reification of the modern project, epitomized initially by the Haussmannization of the medieval world into the Victorian flat city and perfected in the 20th century through that era’s world’s fairs and international exposition, and subsequently through more subtle enclosures of ideology and human interaction, which the author labels omnitopia. Four components of the omnitopian enclave, a structural and perceptual enclave whose apparently distinct locales convey inhabitants to a singular place, are relatively well defined: dislocation, conflation, fragmentation, and mobility. However a fifth, mutability, requires further explication. This chapter, therefore, examines origami urbanism in order to provide a more nuanced analysis of mutability through the analysis of two dyads: thought/action, in which the internal mind appears to act upon the external world, and private/public, by which one may occupy that world with one’s solitary concerns. Reading communicative cities as increasingly enclavic, the chapter argues that the modern project is no longer authored in an institutional sense, but is instead reinforced through individual tactics of resistance that affirm our collective alienation from agency and each other. ← 215...

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