• Ambient Television: Visual Culture and Public Space

    Pages: 328
    Illustrations: 32 b&w photographs, 15 figures
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
    Series: Console-ing Passions
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  • Introduction: The Public Lives of TV 1

    Part I. Histories and Institutions

    Rhetorics of TV Spectatorships Outside the Home 27

    1. TV, Class, and Social Control in the 1940s Neighborhood Tavern 29

    2. Gendered Fantasies of TV Shopping in the Postwar Department Store 63

    3. Out-of-Home Networks in the 1990s 89

    Part II. Places and Practices

    Reading TV Installations in Daily Life 115

    4. Shaping Public and Private Space with TV Screens 117

    5. Television and Consumption at the Point of Purchase 155

    6. Television While You Wait 195

    7. Terminal Thoughts on Art, Activism, and Video for Public Places 225

    Notes 253

    Works Cited 287

    Index 305

  • Ambient Television offers a long overdue consideration of television spectatorship through a study of television's strategic positioning in a variety of public environments outside the home. Anna McCarthy's superb historical research has unearthed much fascinating material which will be of interest to artists and media critics. Anyone wishing to understand more fully our ever expanding media culture will benefit from McCarthy's astute analysis and historical insights into television's complex place in the public sphere.”—John Hanhardt, Guggenheim Museum — N/A

    “An entirely original book, Ambient Television is brilliantly conceived, researched, and argued. Scholars in material culture, media history, and television studies are likely to recognize this virtuoso treatment of TV outside the home as an instant classic.”—Andrew Ross — N/A

    “An unusually rich, ambitious, and engaging work. McCarthy has produced a significant piece of scholarship that will have wide impact upon the way television is taken up in the academy and elsewhere.”—William Boddy, Baruch College — N/A

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  • Description

    Although we tend to think of television primarily as a household fixture, TV monitors outside the home are widespread: in bars, laundromats, and stores; conveying flight arrival and departure times in airports; uniting crowds at sports events and allaying boredom in waiting rooms; and helping to pass the time in workplaces of all kinds. In Ambient Television Anna McCarthy explores the significance of this pervasive phenomenon, tracing the forms of conflict, commerce, and community that television generates outside the home.
    Discussing the roles television has played in different institutions from 1945 to the present day, McCarthy draws on a wide array of sources. These include retail merchandising literature, TV industry trade journals, and journalistic discussions of public viewing, as well as the work of cultural geographers, architectural theorists, media scholars, and anthropologists. She also uses photography as a research tool, documenting the uses and meanings of television sets in the built environment, and focuses on such locations as the tavern and the department store to show how television is used to support very different ideas about gender, class, and consumption. Turning to contemporary examples, McCarthy discusses practices such as Turner Private Networks’ efforts to transform waiting room populations into advertising audiences and the use of point-of-sale video that influences brand visibility and consumer behavior. Finally, she inquires into the activist potential of out-of-home television through a discussion of the video practices of two contemporary artists in everyday public settings.
    Scholars and students of cultural, visual, urban, American, film, and television studies will be interested in this thought-provoking, interdisciplinary book.

    About The Author(s)

    Anna McCarthy is Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

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