Urban Screens Manchester
It's about content!
At midnight Sunday 14 Oct, the two temporary screens were unplugged which together with a
third permanent one, displayed the Urban Screens art and events programme. Urban Screens
Manchester 07 was over.
During the four preceding days, Manchester was a hub for the international Urban Screens
crowd arriving from around the world to learn about the most interesting developments in
the field of public displays, media facades and giant outdoor projection and to discuss
the cultural potential of urban screens. Around 150 delegates attended the conference
which was designed to contain two strands. The so-called poster sessions were short
presentations in which the speakers presented single academic research projects, artworks
for urban screens and latest research on interfaces and screen technology. The longer
Focus sessions gave both speakers and the audience the opportunity to debate.
The conference attendees appreciated both formats and commuted between the two Cornerhouse
cinemas which served as conference locations. With 55 speakers, moderators included, there
was a lot to discover and discuss.
Erkki Huhtamo (UCLA) and Uta Caspary related urban screens to historic events and ancient
architecture thus comparing the increasing plethora of public displays in the urban realm
to old media.
The conference also provided a platform for critical voices and warnings. Amongst others,
Jai Redman (UHC), Ingrid Smit and Jean Claude Bustros (Concordia) discussed the problem of
visual pollution through urban displays and demanded their limitation.
Recurrent topics were the dissolution of the rectangular screen by integrating it into the
urban fabric and (self-)censorship by screen operators when programming content for urban
Jochen Gerz and Joachim Sauter (UDK) emphasised the identity-giving nature of urban
screens, thus arguing for an embedding of screens not only into the physical space of the
city but also its social and historic space.
The thematic sessions blended nicely into each other, giving all participants a better
understanding of the current discourse and broader context of urban screens. In contrast
to the first Urban Screens conference in Amsterdam, the Manchester conference put strong
emphasis on the artistic content for screens. The production and aesthetics of art and
non-commercial content for urban screens was a visible red thread throughout the entire
The extensive art and events programme which took place parallel to the conference and
continued for two subsequent days exemplified potential and actual content for urban
screens. Particularly the participatory events such as the Global Youth show by Lets Go
Global or the DIY Ballroom by susan pui san lok attracted crowds in the city centre of
Manchester. For the roaming film projection by A Wall is a Screen around 150 people moved
through the streets of Manchester.
If you are interested in seeing more, you can find pictures by various contributors of
Urban Screens Manchester 07 on Flickr.
The next Urban Screens Conference will take place in Melbourne in October 2008.
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