Our City Beyond Billboards

From the giant Sony Jumbotron atop Times Square, to the teeny cell phones we use for AOL messaging, digital billboards have an increasing presence on our city streets. Traditionally a venue for corporate advertising, what could these "urban screens" accomplish if commercial agendas weren't at the helm? Come September, a panel of international experts in the arts, urban studies and digital culture, will gather at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, to explore this question. The conference entitled, Urban Screens 2005: Discovering the Potential of Outdoor Screens in Urban Society, strategizes for the de-commercialization of digital displays. As the program poses, "How can we change from consumer entertainment to participation of a wide range of users, involving [all] in the production of space?" The 2-day conference is organized into four categories: Shaping the Urban Media-Scapes, Addressing the Social Value and Civic Culture through Participation, Opening the Commercial Use of Outdoor Screens, and the Future Technology of Outdoor Screens. Combined, these topics suggest tools for urban dwellers to take responsibility for their digital landscape. - Alyssa Wright