July 30, 2008

The Pros and Cons of Screens

The 'Live Sites' giant screens project aims to leave between 45 and 60 screens in towns and city centres. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is supplying the screens and the BBC will provide the content, including live coverage of the Beijing Olympics and through to London 2021 and beyond. The project is funded from the National Lottery and commercial sponsorship. Local authorities will be responsible for maintenance costs.

CABE http://www.cabe.org.uk/ "fully supports the idea of creative access to the Olympics for the widest possible community through temporary large-scale screens around the country, it has serious concerns about leaving them as permanent installations." ..."Just when we're starting to create well-designed, civilised public space in many English towns, along comes a rash of intrusive neon screens," Sarah Gaventa, director of CABE Space, comments.
There is only really one intrusive screen in Manchester at the moment - in Exchange Square (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Exchange_Square.jpg) which isnt well-designed or civilised. Not withstanding the square's shambolic concept, confused further by a ferris wheel, I had always abhorred the ugly black-surround screen, seeing its broadcasts as offensive appropriations of the public arena. However, when I visited Tokyo with its urban landscape of multiple screens, banked high, tangled with neon, flashing, excitement, I realised that the problem wasn't the screens, it was how crap the English are at doing exhilaration in public. The screens are remarkably ugly in themselves but it is just as ugly that the Government public education/conditioning through the Olympiad that makes them really terrible. The aesthetic and social crime of it is the 'legacy' (a great Government word), which will be endless feeds of BBC breakfast TV and mind-numbing daytime soaps/quizzes and the banalities which pass for early evening news broadcasts.


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