This week it was my mission to observe people and the way they interacted with media in space e.g. screens on uni campus, and photograph them for my blog. I decided to target the screen opposite the university library and was very surprised to find that there were actually three screens at this location. I am in my second year of study at university and I would have sworn on a stack of bibles that there was only one. The first thing I noticed during my stake-out, was that this was a popular place for students to congregate. There is a low brick wall that conveniently runs in front of the screens which seems to be the place where people sit. The problem with this position is that potential viewers always have their backs to the screen and not once during the course of the day was I able to catch anyone actually looking at them. I felt a bit defeated and went to the gym instead feeling uninspired.
The Life Fitness equipment at the university gymnasium is fitted with screens which are connected to the internet and you can plug yourself in and watch music videos or television while you are doing a workout. I was feeling pretty demotivated and not wanting to exercise at all but I know ‘its good for you’ (like a million other things which I don’t do) so I climbed on board and got started. I usually choose the 80’s and 90’s music videos because I know all the words and the first track that came on was ACDC’s Thunderstruck. Angus’s guitar solo started and I turned up the volume and ‘wammo’, ‘from out of nowhere’ came this energy that surged through me. It was amazing, I was on fire, and right at that moment I felt I could have climbed Everest. I looked around me and saw that everyone else was doing the same thing – plugged into the machine getting an Internet delivered shot of motivation. At the end of your workout, if you have signed in, you can share your achievements with your facebook buddies and make them all feel guilty about being couch consumers.
The way in which we interact with screens appears to dependent on their context and content. The type of content shown on electronic screens in public spaces has been traditionally used to target consumer groups for the purpose of profitability. The availability and accessibility to public space in which large screens can be placed has been declining due to suburbanisation and overcrowding in cities however, there are some community projects currently being undertaken by government and broadcasting bodies which focus on public screens for enrichment of cultural identity and social cohesion rather than on profitability.
Large public screens have rapidly become a symbol of contemporary urban development projects across the world. For instance, China has an ambitious program of construction for the Olympic Games, with 162 screens–one for each competitor nation–proposed in the design for the Olympic village. (Angelan 2008)
The ‘Big Screen’ Public Space Broadcasting project started in Manchester U.K. in 2003 is one such project. The project among others of a similar nature is discussed in an article posted on Refractory, a peer-reviewed e-journal . The article ‘maps and investigates the potential for large electronic screens to contribute to the formation of new modes of civic agency in public space’ (Angelan 2008).
There is a trend towards using electronic media screens in public spaces for cultural experience and expression rather than for advertising and marketing purposes. The ‘Big Screen’ Public Space Broadcasting project is run on a non profit basis with the screens being utilised more along the lines of civic architecture for the purpose of viewing art or facilitating community gatherings or perhaps just to be inspired by ACDC performing ‘Thunderstruck’
Ndalianis, A. 2008, ‘Public Screens and the transformation of Public Space-Scott McQuire, Niko Papastergiadis and Sean Cubitt’, Refractory, March 6, Retrieved September 22nd from http://refractory.unimelb.edu.au/2008/03/06/public-screens-and-the-transformation-of-public-space/
AC/DC Thunderstruck, 1991 [online video], Retrieved: September 24, 2013, from http://www.ted.com/talks/defend_our_freedom_to_share_or_why_sopa_is_a_bad_idea.html