The “Urban Screens” Concept:
Public screens – or rather large screens situated in public space – are proliferating in cities all over the world. How should we understand the emergence of the electronic screen from the domestic interior onto the streetscape of contemporary cities? What are the implications of the merging of screens with architecture, which turns the surface into a communication resource? How will the overlap between streetscape and datascape shape public space in the future?
— Scott McQuire, “Mobility, cosmopolitanism and public space in the media city” (2009).
Urban screens are digital displays and visual interfaces situated in urban public spaces. They include LED screens and signs, plasma screens, projections, information terminals as well as intelligent architectural surfaces and media facades. They support the idea of using public space as a platform for creation and cultural exchange, strengthening the local economy and encouraging public interaction and discussion.
In January 2004, during the international Media Art Festival Transmediale, Mirjam Struppek conducted a questionnaire for the Artgroup [STRICTLY PUBLIC] in the context of researching about the outcome of their one month video art screening on the largest outdoor LED screen in Berlin which was looking at the impact on the passers by. Later on in 2004 the Institute of Network Cultures (Hogeschool van Amsterdam) approached Mirjam Struppek with the request to develop a research agenda for a conference and prepare the launch of the permanent video screen installation for cultural programming at the Zuidplein, heart of a new urban development area in Amsterdam. Mirjam Struppek further developed a curatorial concept of “Urban Screens” and curated this first conference about “discovering the potential of outdoor screens for urban society” in September 2005. Due to the success of the event, the concept was extended to include conferences, exhibitions, outdoor screenings and international joint broadcasting and an online information platform for networking.
Through a series of international Urban Screens conferences and screening events (Amsterdam, Manchester, Melbourne) and the platform of the International Urban Screens Association we aim to establish and support an Urban Screens network of researchers, curators, artists, designers and producers, and foster the exchange of ideas and content between these interested parties.