Urban media infrastructure and the (re)negotiation of public space
AuthorHannon, Stephanie Kathleen
AffiliationSchool of Culture and Communication
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2020 Stephanie Kathleen Hannon
Over the past decade, governments and community organisations have increasingly employed urban media infrastructure, such as large screen and projection technology, to achieve digital placemaking ambitions and encourage public participation. Despite their growing popularity as part of urban renewal projects, questions remain about the efficacy of using urban media infrastructure to achieve placemaking and public engagement objectives. Some scholars are concerned with the displacing and alienating effect of screen technology in urban contexts, while others highlight the new participatory potential of this media. By adopting an ‘infrastructural’ lens, I examine the affordances and limitations of urban media infrastructure and argue for the specific conditions under which this infrastructure can make a positive contribution to the experience of public space. To support my argument, I present two case studies that describe the role of urban media infrastructure in suburban public spaces in Melbourne, Victoria. I have developed these case studies through a combination of policy analysis, fieldwork including observation and interviews, and visual analysis. These case studies demonstrate that the capacity for urban media infrastructure to contribute to digital placemaking objectives is contingent upon a range of other factors including the spatial setting, media literacy of citizens and community trust. Importantly, I argue that organisational governance and processes play an underrated role in the ability for organisations to realise the full potential of urban media infrastructure. A comparison of the two case studies demonstrates the importance of a strong vision, programming strategy and organisational flexibility in ensuring urban media infrastructure can support digital placemaking objectives and enable a new praxis of public participation.
KeywordsUrban media infrastructure; Urban screens; Projection festivals; Digital placemaking; Placemaking; Urban renewal initiatives; Gertrude Street Project Festival; Harmony Square Dandenong
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