In a previous blog ‘Past VISION of the TELE’ I spoke about the differences in TV viewing culture between my childhood and my Dad’s. The dynamics of how television is watched and perceived in the household has changed constantly over the years. However audience’s attitudes towards television have not just changed in the private space of the home but it has expanded to our public spaces as television and digital screens have become prevalent in our everyday lives.
Leif Dahlberg writes a compelling piece titled ‘Digital screens in public space. Advertising, actors, and the remaking of place’ written in the style of a travelogue of his time in Beijing and Shanghai. He observed and documented every time he encountered digital screens and what their purpose and reach was in terms of audiences. From the airport, to the taxi’s, streets, railway stations and buildings Dahlberg seemed to always be near some form of digital screen however in many cases he observed that they received little attention from passers.
If his observations are an accurate reflection of mass audiences response to digital screens in the public space it would appear that they are pointless. However I think we consume more than we are aware of as humans and therefore even though we may feel as though we are not engaging with the content on public screens it is likely that on some level we are.
Angelan states that ‘large public screens have rapidly become a symbol of contemporary urban development projects across the world’. This comes from the article Public Screens and the Transformation of Public Space, which delves into the introduction and evolution of digital screens in public. ‘Historically, the first generation of large public screens in sites such as Times Square, Manhattan and Shibuya, Tokyo had a predominantly commercial orientation’ but Angelan goes on to highlight the new screens emerging and how ‘this capacity for the public to utilize new media to alter the ambiance of large-scale urban space is historically distinctive’. A question that I found particularly compelling asked ‘can activities such as public space broadcasting or public space media art contribute to new forms of ‘public intimacy?’
In my opinion we are constantly developing immunity to the constant injection of media content into our everyday lives and therefore we may become more comfortable with engaging and consuming content on digital screens in public spaces. While I find the idea of digital screens on the back of public bathroom doors slightly unsettling we really have no idea where this media to audience relationship is going to end up.
Dahlberg, L, 2009, ‘Digital screens in public space. Advertising, actors, and the remaking of place’, last accessed 19/09/2013, http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/mit6/papers/Dahlberg.pdf
Angelan, 2008, Public Screens and the Transformation of Public Space-Scott McQuire, Nikos Papastergiadis & Sean Cubitt, Refractory, last accessed 20/09/2013, http://refractory.unimelb.edu.au/2008/03/06/public-screens-and-the-transformation-of-public-space/