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2013 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

Shanghai’s Public Screen Culture: Local and Coeval

Author: Chris Berry

Published in: Public Space, Media Space

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK


Moving image screens used to be confined indoors, in the form of either movie theater screens or TV screens. But, over the last decade and more, electronic moving image screens of various sizes and types have moved out to proliferate across the public spaces of the world’s cities. From the huge LED screens that cover whole sides of office towers and shopping malls to ATM screens and information screens in the lobbies and entrance halls of stations, banks and other publicly accessible buildings, they have become commonplace. How should we understand these public screens and their role in the public spaces of contemporary urban life? Many scholars who work on public screens are drawn by the novelty of certain screens and their unusual uses, such as the monumental size of certain screens; how some are not attached to but are an integral part of architecture; efforts to use them to stimulate public debate; and art shows using public screens. But, with the significant exception of Anna McCarthy’s seminal work on what she terms “ambient television,” written before the arrival of the flat screen, the everydayness of public screens has been relatively neglected so far (McCarthy, 2001). Perhaps they are so taken for granted that it is hard to pay attention to them except when they are exceptionally large or something unexpected is seen on them. But how are they actually used in everyday life? And are they used in the same way all over the world, as part of some post-modern homogenization of urban life?

Shanghai’s Public Screen Culture: Local and Coeval
Chris Berry
Copyright Year
Palgrave Macmillan UK