Test_Lab: Urban Screen Savers
Will artists end up merely designing urban screen savers, or can we save the urban screen as an artistic medium?
Featuring: Michelle Teran, Ubermatic (CA) | Gunnar Green, TheGreenEyl (DE) | Matthias Oostrik (NL) | Toine Horvers and Paul Cox (NL) | Rui Guerra, I₦TK (PT) | Oscar Steens, City Media Rotterdam (NL)
A screen is a powerful medium in artist’s hands, and public space is an appealing domain for encounters between an artist and his or her audience. Urban screens can therefore be seen as an ideal tool for artistic public interventions as well as an exciting new exhibition format. Despite an ongoing increase in the number of digital urban screens in metropolitan spaces, their potential for artistic intervention and exhibition is seldom exploited. Not only do the commercial motives behind many urban screens compete with their artistic potential, when artists do get a chance to use them as a platform, the medium itself often appears to fall short of its promises. Some artists nowadays even reject the urban screen as an artistic medium and decide to go guerrilla, treating any part of the city surface as a potential projection screen. What does this say about the urban screen’s artistic agenda? Will artists end up merely designing urban screen savers, or can a thorough look at the artists’ current demands contribute to defining a stronger artistic agenda for the urban screen, thereby ‘saving’ the urban screen as an artistic medium?
Rather than debating the medium’s hypothetical possibilities, Test_Lab: Urban Screen Savers critically reflected on the urban screen as an artistic medium on the basis of live demonstrations. Which shortcomings of the urban screen can be distilled from present-day urban hacker culture? How do artists that make use of urban screens cope with our media-dense urban environments? And which topics do these artists aspire to address through urban screenings? As is customary at V2_’s Test_Lab, the audience formed a hands-on critical test panel for the demonstrated artworks.