Screens today proliferate in all manner of public settings, from the iconic bank machine through rail station advertisements, Tube escalators and information panels to museum displays. They are, by turns, tools to get money and information; platforms to advertise, entertain, instruct and inform; and media to attract, occupy, preoccupy and distract your attention. Their presence or absence is an indication of modernity, tackiness, concern or suspicion. Built into them is a random spectator whose momentary glance whilst hurrying through their everyday resists the scrutiny and rich theorization traditionally enjoyed by visual studies of art or cinema. Who or what in these scenarios is the subject and who or what is the object? The address is not to one and everyone but to anyone. Infecting every facet of the urban experience, taken as a whole, they amount just so much visual noise, pulling your attention this way and that, repelling or seducing you with the warm glow of the commodity fetish. Despite the fact that we are dealing with moving images, investigating their medium specificity, their internal formal structures and the ingenuity of their siting, will not, on its own, suffice to understand the impact of this phenomenon on our daily experience of the city. The cinema that once might have satisfied the losses associated with modernity, when experience and contemplative thought were losing ground to representation and the fragmentation of perception, bears no straightforward relation to contemporary public screens.
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- In Transit: Between Labor and Leisure in London’s St. Pancras International
- Copyright Year
- Palgrave Macmillan UK