Disrupting the City: Using Urban Screens to Remediate Public Space


Presentation Title:

  • Disrupting the City: Using Urban Screens to Remediate Public Space



  • Keywords: Urban screens, media façades, large dynamic digital displays, screen technology, interactive public space installations, urban interventions, design strategies, situated interaction, remediation.

    For over a decade, human-computer interaction (HCI) research placed a great deal of emphasis on studying interaction, engagement, and appropriative practices in online technology- mediated social environments. Moving forward, however, we see computing systems increasingly designed to support digitally-augmented face-to-face interactions in public settings. As far back as the nineteen seventies, new media artists anticipated this interactive potential of digital public displays to foster new forms of situated interactions in urban space, quite distinct from mobile computing in that they altogether exclude online connections or exchanges. Drawing on examples of practice, this paper discusses and showcases some of the key creative strategies, which panelists deploy in order to remediate interactive screen technology into a platform that has the power to disrupt the ordinary course of our everyday experience within increasingly media saturated cities.

    Presentation abstracts:

    1. Dave Colangelo — Using Massive Media to Remediate Public Space
      What can happen when buildings become screens?
      The new sites of conversation, contestation, and commerce in public culture that emerge from the confluence ofbuilding and screen-based technologies have two key characteristics. Firstly, they are big – they are massive. As a result of their scale they are highly visible and loaded with significance and thus culturally and economically valuable. They take space, that is, they take up a significant amount of prime real estate and demand to be considered as public and communal. Secondly, they are communicative and technical– they are media.
    2. Jean Dubois — Air(e) Libre: From Individual Bubbles to Full Blown Public Sphere                       Before the twenty-first century, modern conceptions of public space were intimately shaped by everyday life and encounters experienced at street level and in city squares. Today, it may be that the majority of our interactions collectively take place through online social media and this shift may well have radically redefined our understanding of what constitutes public space. The street continues to exist but it is no longer the locus of public life, the place where we share ideas and views. Digital networks now host virtual public spaces rendering them intangible. While online environments support new ways of being together, they also change the stakes and present unprecedented challenges and opportunities.  et, it is still not completely clear exactly what these are. We have a sense that the public sphere has become a liminal space for public life somewhere between the streets and the complex web of media networks we use, an indeterminate discursive space produced by the interdependency of one and the other.
    3. Claude Fortin — Ancient Insights on Interactivity: Using a Media Archaeological Approach to Study Urban Screens                                                                                                                            Huhtamo argues that, as elements of visual media culture, public displays have been a common fixture of the polis since ancient times. Applying his media archaeological approach to urban screens also reveals that large screen surfaces in private, semi-public, and public space have an equally far-reaching history of being interactive. A case in point are the dialogical wall writings found in Pompeii. Since the eighteenth century, archaeologists have been excavating the Ancient Roman town-city that lay buried in pumice stone after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.. In these ruins, they found that the interior and exterior façades of public buildings, stores, and private homes were often marked with graffiti and dipinti. A graffito is an inscription – a writing or a drawing – produced by scratching into a painted or plastered surface that hides a different coloured ground a dipinto is a similar inscription painted over this surface with ink, paint or charcoal.

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