“Overscale Art in Public Space: from Play to Dysplay” presented by Benayoun


Session Title:

  • Large Displays in Urban Spaces and Elsewhere - Gigantic: Mediation Beyond Surface

Presentation Title:

  • Overscale Art in Public Space: from Play to Dysplay




  • Street art has reminded us again of the power of media when artists practice outside of the white box. For centuries the frame separated the art from the “real” world, a boundary which was questioned by the introduction of screen technologies. More recently the screen has expanded, invading the walls, the façades and now the very skin of the building itself. Light and image are covering entire buildings in a way that, beyond any previous definition of screen, the urban architectural complex has become a medium. After the painting frame, the veduta, then the painted wall, and now the urban screen have each had their turn as places for the exaltation of the symbolic dimension of architecture. In each case, media scale was seen as a way to draw the public’s attention. At one time the skyscraper itself was enough of a statement, now it has been overwhelmed by the greed of the market keen on capturing consumer attention. Simultaneously, architects are understanding that adhering LED screens on buildings was merely a temporary phase in the evolution of the complex relation between architecture and image.

    The first use of these massive urban displays was expectedly commercial. The public space became a gigantic stadium where commodities compete to catch the citizens’ attention: fancy watches v.s. expensive sedans, sexy models v.s. sparkling jewelry. Converting the world into an ever-expanding shopping mall, the market has extended display beyond Guy Debord’s anticipation of the society of the spectacle forcing us to now ask, “What could be or should be the position of the artist in the urban landscape?”

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