Urban Screens: Bringing People Together Since ’15

Susanne Jaschko (2007) explores the urban screen as a ‘permeable membrane’, with the ability to combine the inner processes of a building and the external cityscape. The same principle applies with the use of the screen as a mediator between the physical and digital experiences of place.

Often the potential of the urban screen goes unseen, and gets denoted as something similar to a billboard. However, the fluid and interactive nature of the screen that Jaschko discusses makes the urban screen a far more vital element in urban space than any passive billboard.

For a university research project, I had originally planned to explore the use of urban screens in regards to marketing. However, I have moved my focus towards the use of urban screens in developing positive spatial dynamics in public urban spaces. While a large-scale screen would be an extraordinary means of advertising, there lies far more meaning and potential for such a screen to provide artistic, communicative and engaging messages aimed to interact with the audience, bettering their experience of the space they find themselves in.

‘Exploring Urban Screens’ by Krajina details these sorts of interactions between urban screens and individuals, and looks at the way in which screens can enhance a person’s experience of space. She describes the site of the screen as remaining ‘relatively open to the situational poetics of circumstance’, suggesting the screen could be used by individuals as a distraction while they wait for friends, or as a way to avert eye contact with strangers. The social consequences of the urban screen are not weightless. Perhaps it would be interesting for me to explore the social tendencies that urban screens encourage (such as avoiding eye contact), and those that it replaces (such as using a personal device to distract one’s self while waiting). The intriguing thing about a large, public screen is that it draws the attention of individuals from their own private devices to something much more public; a screen that is shared and not only engaged with by just them.

In a sense, the urban screen is a way of reversing the very exclusive and anti-social behaviour that portable, personal devices bring to public space. Not only does it encourage people to look up from their smart phones and tablets, it also encourages a communal experience for those it engages with, forcing individuals to consume the exact same content in the exact same context, so that if they initially had absolutely nothing in common, they now do.


Jaschko, S 2007, ‘The Cultural Value of Urban Screens’, accessed 8/4/15www.sujaschko.de/downloads/274/urbanscreens

Krajina, Z 2009, ‘Exploring Urban Screens’, Culture Unbound, vol. 1, pp. 401-430, accessed 8/4/2015, http://www.cultureunbound.ep.liu.se/v1/a24/cu09v1a24.pdf


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