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Imaginary Apparatus

New York City and its Mediated Representation

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the John Lindsay administration in New York City created innovative policies to try to draw on-location media production to the city. At the same time, the New York City Planning Commission was producing a wealth of documents that clearly reflect the influence of various media depictions of New York. Imaginary Apparatus reveals the links between those two efforts, showing how they fed each other. As more and more films and TV shows were shot on location in New York, mediated images of the city and its buildings proliferated—and those same images exerted a powerful influence on the imaginations of the planners who were generating ideas for New York’s future development. Included with thisbook is a DVD featuring the movie What Is the City but the People?, the film version of the 1969 "Plan for New York City" and a unique document that has never before been publicly available.       

A groundbreaking exploration of a key moment in New York history, Imaginary Apparatus reveals fascinating hidden linkages between representations of the city and the actual built environment.

200 pages | 65 color plates, 70 halftones, 1 DVD | 6 x 9 1/2 | © 2015

Architecture: Architecture--Criticism

Media Studies

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"Clutter compellingly argues that the John Lindsay Administration in New York City helped to construct an apparatus in which the forces of media and urban planning fed off each other to foster a new, more economically vibrant metropolis. . . . The book provide[s] an excellent case study of the role of media within urban design. . . . Designers should not write off the effects of their particular dominant media form on the planning process; in a time in which our virtual lives can seem comparably important to our physical ones, we may start swiping left on our cities if we ignore the effects of our contemporary imaginary apparatus."


“Scholars and historians have made short work of architecture’s media functions, claiming them as important, if not more so, as actual physical buildings. We scour through archives, dig up sketches, engravings, magazines, any kind of published format that proves architecture as being what the US copyright statutes call a ‘tangible medium of expression.’ Clutter’s Imaginary Apparatus is a welcome addition to this body of literature, making a case for the vitality of architecture’s image-ability.”

Avery Review

 “Imaginary Apparatus is a tightly argued, concise study but its implications are far-reaching, and these include its resonances for the field of film and media studies as it seeks to be as openly interdisciplinary as possible. . . . Clutter’s volume holds equal interest for film and media scholars, insofar as he demonstrates how much other disciplines look to moving-image study for inspiration and thereby how those disciplines imagine what cinema scholars, at their most capacious reaches, are doing.”

Film Quarterly

Table of Contents


Part 1: The Apparatus

Part 2: The City







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