Research projects

Large Screens and the Transnational Public Sphere

Organisation University of Melbourne
Contact Dr Amelia Douglas
Position Senior Research Associate
Email adouglas@unimelb.edu.au
Website http://spatialaesthetics.unimelb.edu.au/
Other organisations or people involved Art Center Nabi, Australia Council for the Arts, Federation Square
Objectives This project will test the use of large video screens as a communication platform for constructing an experimental public sphere. The project will pioneer the linking of major public screens located in Melbourne and Seoul for three 'urban media events' involving specifically commissioned content utilising live and interactive elements. This will be complemented by qualitative longitudinal analysis of both the process of artistic production and the effects of public dissemination. The project will produce the world’s first study of the possibilities for using large video screens as a platform for cultural exchange and transformation of the ‘public sphere’ in the global era.
Research questions The project has five key aims:

1. To deepen regional cultural links through the development of technical infrastructure for cultural exchange between Art Center Nabi and Federation Square;

2. To develop, commission and curate innovative interactive content, and document and evaluate the collaborative production process;

3. To undertake empirical investigation of public interaction with large screens in distinct urban situations and cultural contexts;

4. To test theoretical frameworks for understanding cultural exchange in the global context;

5. To establish more comprehensive grounds for the regulation and use of large screens in urban planning and design policy.
Methodology One of the key aims of the Large Screens and the Transnational Public Sphere project is to enhance the role of artists in the production of emergent forms of social interaction in public space. Its concerns with empirical analyses of user experience and social theories of transnational exchange are inseparable from its practical and conceptual concerns with creative production—with the conception, development, commissioning, curation and technical support of transnational interactive artworks. There have been a number of studies that have explored the agency of the artist in the context of globalization. This project is distinctive in attempting—in very practical ways—to bridge the gap between artists and screen operators by offering structured support for the development, production and delivery of interactive artworks which link public spaces. It draws together key stakeholders in Australia and Korea to investigate the largely untapped potential of large scr eens to sustain experimental forms of ‘publicness’ and agency, and to explore how we might use art to facilitate interactions between people—especially strangers—in the same physical space, while also linking those in one site or city to those in another.

The project deliberately locates the academic researcher alongside artists, programmers, producers, curators, and screen managers. Its research design is comprised of different strands of investigation (technological, artistic, ethnographic and conceptual), which are interlinked in a circular feedback system, rather than a linear order, and which are interwoven to create research synergies. This method draws on recent innovations in aesthetic and ethnographic research techniques that highlight the importance of collaboration between different agents and sectors in contemporary knowledge production.
Status In Progress
Web Links http://spatialaesthetics.unimelb.edu.au/
Project start date Aug 2009
Project completion date Aug 2014
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