Urban Screens - Discovering the potential of outdoor screens for urban society (Urban Screens 05)

Venue: TPG Building / Post CS Amsterdam

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Event Date/Time: Sep 23, 2005 End Date/Time: Sep 24, 2005
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In the context of the rapidly evolving commercial information sphere of our cities, developers are bringing new digital display technology into the urban landscape like large daylight compatible LED screens or high-tech plasma screens. It is now time to broaden the use of these "moving billboards", as Lev Manovich criticized them already in 2002. There is a growing interest in exploring the potential of a non-commercial use, asking for new strategies and cooperations in content production and management. Instead of just infiltrating some “artcoockies”, lets look at them more in terms of open "screening platforms" and how that can have a 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 the space is inhabited can be read as a participatory process of its audience. The (vanishing) role as space for social and symbolic discourse has been often discussed in urban sociology.
Modernization, the growing independence from place and time and the individualization seem to destroy the city rhythm and its social systems. We currently face a transitional period of restructuring social networks in a globalized world resulting in various new experiments with new media tools. Starting with the development of virtual cities with its chat rooms and spaces for production of identity, we now face community experiments like collaborative wikis, blogs or mobile phone networks in the growing field of social computing.

Parallel to this development an "event culture" has evolved in the real urban space among the internationally competing cities, focusing on tourism and consumption. Considering the social sustainability of our cities it is necessary to look closer at the livability and openness of public spaces and start to address the urban users as citizens not as passive consumers. The experience, made in the new digital communication spheres, might serve as an inspiration for this social enhancement. Linda Wallace suggest to use” the internet as a delivery mechanism to inhabit and or change actual urban spaces.” 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, a medium of communication of the city with itself?

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.

The conference aims at an interdisciplinary audience with the intention to exchange experiences and start a network to initiate future collaborations. During the conference participants will strongly be encouraged to take part in an open discourse and exchange. Preparations of the event will include an online discussion and documentation on the institute’s website. Additionally live web casting and other online documentation during and after the conference will present the content to a wider audience.