Occupy the Screen


Presentation Title:

  • Occupy the Screen



  • “Occupy The Screen” by Paul Sermon and Charlotte Gould was a site-specific work commissioned by Public Art Lab Berlin for the Connecting Cities Festival event “Urban Reflections” from 11 to 13 September 2014, linking audiences at Supermarkt Gallery Berlin and Riga European Capital of Culture 2014. This installation builds on practice-based research and development of previous interactive works for large format urban screens such as “Picnic on the Screen”, originally developed for the BBC Public Video Screen at the Glastonbury Festival in 2009.
    This new installation pushed the playful, social and public engagement aspects of the work into new cultural and political realms in an attempt to ‘reclaim the urban screens’ through developments in ludic interaction and internet based highdefinition video-conferencing. Through the use of illustrated references to site-specific landmarks of Berlin and Riga, audiences were invited to “Occupy the Screen”. The concept development of “Occupy the Screen” was inspired in part by 3D street art as a DIY tradition, referencing the subversive language of graffiti. The interface borrows from the “topoi” of the computer game, as a means to navigate the environment; once within the frame the audience becomes a character immersed within the environment.
    “Occupy the Screen” linked two geographically distant audiences using a telematics technique; the installation takes live oblique camera shots from above the screen of each of these two audience groups, located on a large 50 square metre blue ground sheet and combines them on screen in a single composited image. As the merged audiences start to explore this collaborative, shared ludic interface, they discover the ground beneath them, as it appears on screen as a digital backdrop, locates them in a variety of surprising and intriguing anamorphic environments where from a particular position the characters can look as if in a precarious situation.
    “Occupy the Screen” aimed to include the widest range of urban participation possible and aligns to a Fluxus “Happening” in a move away from the object as art towards the street environment and the “every day” experience. It also borrows from a tradition of early cinema where audiences were transfixed by the magic of being transported to alternative realities though screenings at the traveling fairs. Lumière contemporaries, Mitchell and Kenyon, whose films of public crowds in the 1900’s present a striking similarity to the way audiences react and respond to “Occupy the Screen”.
    Through this research we found that the environment and timing have a large impact on the way that an audience responds. The inspiration was drawn both from the cities of Riga and Berlin, with input from the communities. The area of play was clearly demarked as a space via a blue box groundsheet in both cities identifying a theatre of play, once in the space the participant engages as they wish. In many ways “Occupy the Screen” broke down cultural and social barriers, both in the local communities, but also between two cities, Berlin and Riga, where new collocated spaces and creative encounters could be founded and occupied. paulsermon.org/occupy

    Videos: Documentary Pub Art Lab Documentary
    Project Partners Public Art Lab Berlin: Project Partners Public Art Lab Berlin
    Connecting Cities: Connecting Cities