Urban Screens Reader
Urban Screens Reader
|Publisher:||Hogeschool van Amasterdam University|
On September 23, 2005, about 200 people crammed into the 11th floor of the POSTCS building in Amsterdam for the opening of the first Urban Screens conference. One of the most noticeable aspects of the event, organised by the Institute of Network Cultures in conjunction with Mirjam Struppek, Gerrit Rietveld Academy and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, was the range of different interest groups it attracted. Artists sat alongside broadcasters and other ‘content providers’, architects and urban planners jostled with advertisers, curators and new media theorists, while activists rubbed shoulders with screen owners, technology providers and signage analysts. This heady mix unleashed the kind of energetic discussion born of frequent misunderstandings as much as productive intersections, and crystallized the realisation that something significant had changed.
In 2005 ‘urban screens’ were about 30 years old, if we can take the installation of the famous Spectacolour Board in New York’s Times Square as a convenient point of origin. However, if Spectacolour in the mid-1970s was clearly about forming a new advertising platform, by 2005 cumulative changes in technology, urban space and public culture had all contributed to the pervasive sense that something new was emerging. Instead of treating the digital realm primarily in terms of its separation from everyday life (as the discourses around ‘virtual reality’ and ‘cyberspace’ had done in the 1980s and 1990s), the discussion around urban screens was animated, above all, by recognition of the growing integration of media into everyday existence. Urban screens of various scale – from the small handheld screens of mobile phones to the large screens dominating the streetscapes of global cities – exemplified a new urban paradigm produced by the layering of physical space and media space, resulting in what has been variously called ‘Hertzian’, ‘hybrid’, ‘mixed’, ‘augmented’ or ‘stereoscopic’ space.
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