The city as medium – Wakabayashi


Mikio Wakabayashi writes:

“The cultural role of a city results from the fact that the city is a medium. It is a place governed by norms, rules and cultures, enabling heterogeneous people to live together.” (p.8)

“The spatial order of an urban settlement is not only a geographical order, but also an order of communication and representation. The city exists as a complex of the social medium, which is spatial, communicative and representative. To dwell in such a milieu is, on the one hand, to live in the corporeality of the spatial world, and, on the other hand, to live in the world of meanings that are transmitted by the social media, which construct the urban environment. In this sense, the city matches perfectly the term “media”, as the plural of “medium”.” (p.9)

“…as Choay (1969) argued, in most pre-modern (pre-industrial) cities, elements of the urban environment were interrelated in the context of normative codes and rules, which in turn were acknowledged by inhabitants and planners, and were also connected with all other social systems, such as political power, knowledge, economy, and religion. It seems, then, that cities may be regarded as systems of communication and information, in other words as “semiotic systems”.” (p.10)

“Cyberspace and the cybercity are a “mirror” that projects the negatives of the physical or real city, because they are created as a result of needs and desires that have grown from a lack or dissatisfaction regarding physical or real cities and society.” (p.14)

Ref: Mikio Wakabayashi (2002) Urban space and cyberspace: Urban environment in the age of media and information technology. International Journal of Japanese Sociology 11, pp.6-18


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