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friday :: september 30, 2005
urban screens: discovering the potential of outdoor screens for urban society

URBAN SCREENS 2005 is an international conference ranging from critical theory to project experiences by researchers and practitioners in the field of Art, Architecture, Urban Studies and Digital Culture. It addresses the growing infrastructure of large digital moving displays, that increasingly influence the visual sphere of our public spaces. It will investigate 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 interactively?

In the context of our cities’ rapidly evolving commercial information-sphere, developers bring new digital display technology into the urban landscape, like large daylight compatible LED screens or high-tech plasma screens. Meanwhile, there is a growing interest in exploring their potential of non-commercial use, challenging new strategies of content production and management. Instead of limiting our view to the emerging occasional “infiltration” of video art, let’s regard these screens as “screening platforms” and investigate their social or cultural impact on our urban society.

Public space has always been a place for human interaction, a unique arena for exchange of rituals and communication in a constant process of renewal, challenging the development of society. Its architectural dimension, being a storytelling medium itself, has played a changing role of importance in providing a stage for this interaction. The way space is inhabited can be read as a participatory process of its audience. The (vanishing) role as space for social and symbolic discourse has often been discussed in urban sociology. Modernization, the growing independence from place and time and the individualization seem to destroy the city and its social rhythm. Besides experiments with social networks and the media, a variety of tools have emerged. Starting with the development of virtual cities with its chat rooms and spaces for production of identity, we now face communal experiments like collaborative wikis, blogs, or mobile phone networks in the growing field of social computing and cross-media platforms.

Parallel to this development, an event culture has evolved in the real urban space of internationally competing cities, focusing on tourism and consumption. Considering the social sustainability of our cities it necessary to look closer at the livability and openness of public spaces and start to address the urban users as citizens instead of passive consumers. The shared experiences in the digital communication sphere, might serve as an inspiration for this social enhancement of the real city. Could large outdoor displays function as experimental “visualization zone” of the fusing of the virtual public spaces and our real world? Can screens function as a new mirror reflecting the public sphere?

The URBAN SCREENS conference wants to address these questions and launch a discussion about how digital culture can make use of the existing and future screening infrastructure, in terms of art and social or political practices, generating a higher value for its operators and "users". We want to address the existing commercial predetermination and explore the nuance between art, interventions and entertainment to stimulate a lively culture. Other key issues are: mediated interaction, content management, participation of the local community, restrictions due to technical limits, and the incorporation of the screens in the architecture of our urban landscape. >from *urban screens site* text by Mirjam Struppek. September 23-24, 2005

related context
urban screens loop.
> creative capital: culture, innovation and the public domain. august 19, 2005
> tripolis: urban art and the public sphere. july 15, 2005
> grafedia: hyperlinks for the urban landscape. february 18, 2005
> plan: pervasive and locative arts network. january 28, 2005
> urballon: an urban media space. october 8, 2004
> fused space: new technology in/as public space. july 23, 2004
> psy-geo-conflux: the meaning of living in a city. may 14, 2003
> first international moblogging conference. june 30, 2003

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