• Video Killed the Radio Star: MTV and the Construction of Postmodern Space in 1980s America
    Léa-Catherine Szacka

First MTV original broadcast, August 1, 1981.

On August 1, 1981, the American cable television channel Music Television (MTV), hit the airwaves, playing music videos 24 hours a day and seven days a week, specifically targeting the demographic group of young adults. A revolution in television history, the arrival of MTV on the American, and later the international scene, had a direct impact on notions of space, as represented and consumed by 1980s teenagers and young adults. Almost overnight, music videos became a new mode of expression as well as an important promotional and marketing vehicle—prompting what came to be known as the Second British Invasion. Through the medium of television, and using notions of performativeness and spectatorship, this project seeks to explore the cultural history of American television channel MTV, assessing its possible agency on the construction and perception of postmodern space—from the domestic to the public space.

Léa-Catherine Szacka is lecturer in architectural studies at the University of Manchester and visiting lecturer at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and the Berlage. She is the author of the award winning book Exhibiting the Postmodern: The 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale (Marsilio, 2016); coauthor of Le Concert: Pink Floyd à Venise (B2, 2017) and coeditor of Mediated Messages: Periodicals, Exhibitions and the Shaping of Postmodern Architecture (Bloomsbury, 2018) and Concrete Oslo (Torpedo Press, 2018). Ongoing research focuses on the architecture of television, mainly in the 1980s. Szacka also works on the history and theory of curating architecture and is currently completing the manuscript for Biennials/Triennials: A Geography of Itinerant Display (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2019). Szacka holds a PhD in history and theory of architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture. Her research has been supported the SSHRC, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Centre Pompidou, the RIBA, and the Gerda Henkel Stiftung.