[artinfo] Fwd: first monday special issue on urban screens

Janos Sugar sj at c3.hu
Wed Feb 8 12:21:21 CET 2006

>Urban Screens: Discovering the potential of outdoor screens for urban society
>By Pieter Boeder and Mirjam Struppek
>Introduction to First Monday, Special Issue #4: 
>Urban Screens: Discovering the potential of 
>outdoor screens for urban society (February 2006)
>Welcome, gentle reader, to this First Monday 
>Urban Screens special issue, the first 
>publication of its kind. With the advent of 
>digital media, the global communication 
>environment has changed dramatically. In the 
>context of the rapidly evolving commercial 
>information sphere of our cities, especially 
>since the 1990s, a number of novel digital 
>display technologies have been introduced into 
>the urban landscape. This transformation has 
>intersected with other major transformations of 
>media technology and culture over the last two 
>decades: the formation of distributed global 
>networks and the emergence of mobile media 
>platforms such as mobile phones. Their 
>cumulative and synergistic impact has been 
>profound. Convergence of screen technologies 
>with digital communication technologies such as 
>GSM, RFID, Internet and database technologies 
>has lead to the emergence of a new, interactive 
>and increasingly pervasive medium: Urban Screens.
>Urban Screens can be defined as interactive, 
>dynamic digital information displays in urban 
>environments. Their genesis is the consequence 
>of two parallel technological developments: 
>evolution and subsequent growth in magnitude of 
>the traditional display screen, and its 
>subsequent convergence with other digital media 
>technologies. Forms and appearances range from 
>large daylight compatible LED billboards, plasma 
>or SED screens, information displays in public 
>transportation systems and electronic city 
>information terminals to dynamic, intelligent 
>surfaces that may be fully integrated into 
>architectural façade structures. Their 
>introduction in the urban environment poses new, 
>unparalleled challenges and opportunities, which 
>we will explore and document in this issue.
>Currently, the primary purpose of this new 
>infrastructure appears to be the management and 
>control of consumer behaviour through 
>advertising. Commercial companies are starting 
>to realise that digital billboards are a 
>powerful medium to communicate their goals and 
>missions, in line with the new paradigms of the 
>digital economy. Interconnected Urban Screens 
>have tremendous potential to serve as a platform 
>for information exchange. Such large networks 
>are already being developed Russia, China, USA 
>and South America, where Urban Screens are 
>rapidly becoming a key element in commercial and 
>government informational infrastructure. The 
>implications for the public sphere are profound. 
>Information density per square metre is 
>increasing, yet at the same time individuals 
>have less control than ever over the actual 
>format and content of that information.
>Public space has always been a place for human 
>interaction, a unique arena for the exchange of 
>rituals and communication. Its architecture, 
>being a storytelling medium itself, plays an 
>important role in providing a stage for this 
>interaction. The ways in which public space is 
>inhabited can be read as a participatory process 
>of its audience. Its (vanishing) role as a space 
>for social and symbolic discourse has often been 
>discussed in urban sociology. Modernisation, the 
>growing independence of place and time and 
>individualisation seem to devastate traditional 
>city life and its social rhythm. The Urban 
>Screens project explores the opportunities for 
>opening this steadily growing infrastructure of 
>digital screens, currently dominated by market 
>forces, for cultural content, along with its 
>potential for revitalising of the public sphere.
>Urban Screens 2005 was the first international 
>conference that was solely dedicated to the 
>emerging Urban Screens phenomenon. Presentations 
>covered a broad spectrum of topics and issues, 
>ranging from critical theory to project 
>experiences by researchers and practitioners in 
>the field of art, architecture, urban studies 
>and digital culture. It addressed the growing 
>infrastructure of large digital moving displays, 
>which increasingly influence and structure the 
>visual sphere of our public spaces. Urban 
>Screens 2005 investigated how the currently 
>dominating commercial use of these screens can 
>be broadened and culturally curated: can these 
>screens become a tool to contribute to a lively 
>urban society, involving its audience 
>A new medium that is digital, interactive and pervasive
>What we are seeing is the emergence of a new 
>medium that is digital, global and local, 
>interactive and pervasive at the same time. What 
>happens if the convergence of new technologies 
>such as Internet, database and mobile 
>technologies suddenly enable interactive access 
>to the visual streaming of these digital 
>surfaces? Can it revitalise the public sphere by 
>creating an information-dense urban environment 
>or is it a major threat? How does the growing 
>infrastructure of digital displays influence the 
>perception of the visual sphere of our public 
>spaces? Metaphorically speaking, can or do Urban 
>Screens already function as a mirror, reflecting 
>the public sphere?
>The Urban Screens project aims to address these 
>questions in a transdisciplinary debate and 
>present new approaches to answering the most 
>pushing urgent questions, exchange experiences 
>and create and maintain a thematical network 
>around the subject for initiating future 
>collaborations. The Urban Screens 2005 
>conference in Amsterdam addressed the existing 
>commercial predetermination and explored the 
>nuance between art, interventions and 
>entertainment to stimulate a lively culture. 
>Other key issues were mediated interaction, 
>content, participation of the local community, 
>possible restrictions due to technical limits, 
>and the incorporation of screens in the 
>architecture of our urban landscape.
>Urban Screens 2006: Demonstrating the potential of public screens for
>Building upon the results of Urban Screens 2005, 
>the 2006 Urban Screens 2006 conference (Berlin, 
>October 5-6) will elaborate on the discussion 
>and develop the broad spectrum of possible 
>formats and usage of this emerging new media 
>infrastructure. Urban Screens 2006 will be a 
>platform for demonstrating the potential of 
>public screens for interaction in a trinity of 
>infrastructure, content and cooperation models. 
>Interconnected topics will be the politics of 
>public space, multimedia content as a service 
>for an array of portable devices, urban 
>neighbourhood reactivation, interaction design 
>of urban screens, standardisation and 
>integration in the urban landscape. Using 
>existing screens infrastructure as well as 
>future 'Urban Screens furniture' in the urban 
>space of Berlin, we will demonstrate the impact 
>of Urban Screens, their contextualisation and 
>situatedness. This unique accumulation of 
>projects will serve as a playground and research 
>field for practical observations on the 
>interplay of screen technology, content, 
>location and format.
>Urban Screens 2007: Expanding the potential of content for community screens
>Urban Screens 2007 is currently under 
>preparation in collaboration with BBC Public 
>Space Broadcasting. While Urban Screens 2006 
>will have 'brick & mortar' accents, Urban 
>Screens 2007 will have a distinct focus on the 
>potential of journalistic content: issues 
>surrounding the production and display of media 
>content for Urban Screens, as well as adaptive 
>reuse of 'old' content for new media will be 
>explored in detail. Key issues and topics will 
>include Public Space Broadcasting (PSB), the 
>politics of public space, mediated interaction 
>and participation, as well as experiments with 
>new participatory formats. PSB can energise the 
>hearts of cities by bringing together 
>communities to share events and broadcasts, 
>creating public news and information points that 
>double as local meeting places. Largely due to 
>the innovative work of the BBC, PSB is starting 
>to prove its potential to provide an outlet for 
>community and educational activities, public 
>service information, visual arts, digital 
>innovation and local content production, 
>revitalising the public sphere.
>We hope that you will share our excitement.
>Table of Content:
>Introduction: Discovering the potential of outdoor screens for urban society
>by Pieter Boeder and Mirjam Struppek
>Urban screens: The beginning of a universal visual culture
>by Paul Martin Lester
>The politics of public space in the media city
>by Scott McQuire
>The poetics of urban media surfaces
>by Lev Manovich
>Interpreting urban screens
>by Anthony Auerbach
>Story space: A theoretical grounding for the new urban annotation
>by Rekha Murthy
>The urban incubator: (De)constructive 
>(re)presentation of heterotopian spatiality and 
>virtual image(ries)
>by Wael Salah Fahmi
>Urban screens: Towards the convergence of architecture and audiovisual media
>by Tore Slaatta
>Towards an integrated architectural media space
>by Ava Fatah gen. Schieck
>Art and social displays in the branding of the 
>city: Token screens or opportunities for 
>Julia Nevárez
>Hijacking the urban screen: Trends in outdoor 
>advertising and predictions for the use of video 
>art and urban screens
>by Raina Kumra
>For an aesthetics of transmission
>by Giselle Beiguelman
>Intelligent skin: Real virtual
>by Vera Bühlmann
>Programming video art for urban screens in public space
>by Kate Taylor
>Augmenting the City with Urban Screens
>by Florian Resatsch, Daniel Michelis, Corina Weber, and Thomas Schildhauer

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