Marshall McLuhan’s Influence: A Conference on The Mediated City


The wide reaching scope and influence of Marshall McLuhan’s most important book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), the 50th anniversary of the publication of which is being celebrated this year, can be seen from this Call for Papers for a conference this Fall in Burbank California, October 1 – 3. Paul Guzzardo calls McLuhan’s book the “default brief for 21st century urban design”.

By Serouj (Own work) 1

The Mediated City   –   Part 2   –   Los Angeles 

   …50 years in the global village – an examination of the modern city in the technological age

October 01-03,   2014,   Woodbury University                                               


2014 marks the fifty-year anniversary of one of the 20th century’s most influential texts – Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan not only introduced the media-as-the-message, it presented the world with the metaphor of the global village.

Half a century after the publication of this revolutionary text, The Mediated City – Los Angeles – Conference seeks to explore the multiple ways in which the city of today is experienced, perceived, represented and constructed as a ‘mediated’ phenomenon.



Today, we are perfectly attuned to the photo-realistic imagery of design presentations; daily experience the ever present moving imagery of the commercialized urban landscape; and still watch the ‘city symphonies’ of a new generation of filmmakers. We are familiar with the digitally laden experience of the contemporary public transport ride, and still see ‘the city’ as a site, subject and protagonist in cinematic productions from California to Mumbai. In this context, urbanists imagine the future of an interconnected ‘smart city’ and the design process itself becomes mediated, as architects simulate user behavior as a form of ‘space syntax’.

As McLuhan identified in 1964, today’s global village is a place of simultaneous experience; a site for overlapping material and electronic effects; a place not so much altered by the content of a medium, but rather, a space transformed by the very nature of medias themselves.

For some, this is little more than the inevitable evolution of urban space in the digital age. For others, it represents the city’s liberation from the condition of stasis. For scaremongers, it’s a nightmare scenario in which the difference between the virtual and the real, the electronic and the material, the recorded and the lived, becomes impossible to identify. In every case, corporeal engagement is placed at one remove from the physical world.


The intention of this conference is bring together people from various disciplines to explore how their work, their ideas and their practices overlap and inform each other. Architects, urban designers, filmmakers, animators, theorists, academics, artists, web-designers and programmers will share their work and their positions.

In this context, The Mediated City – Los Angeles – Conference will not stipulate or prescribe themes beyond its interest in openly and creatively exploring the multiple ways in which the city can be said to be ‘mediated’.

It welcomes theoretical examinations of the cinematic city; practical debates on the architect’s role in filmic production; conversations on the use of apps to navigate ‘metropoli’; considerations on the simulation of the urban environment; debates about the nature of the ‘virtual’ building; and discussions on the digital mapping of the world by companies like Google – and much more.

It is anticipated that conversations across disciplines will evolve and emerge through the juxtaposition of multiple perspectives.

The call for papers and other conference information can be found at

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