Urban screens and public address

Every night in May, you can see a video art project on Inside Out on Times Square, on most of the screens usually reserved for advertising. Come and see it yourself, 11.57pm in Times Square!

Source: http://www.jr-art.net/news/midnight-moment-inside-out-takes-over-times-square. Part of the project video art project on Inside Out on Times Square, when in May ordinary citizens where screened instead of usual advertising spaces at 11.57pm in Times Square.

Time Square is a major New York City site for media innovations. Indeed, through history, we can look at the various forms of media imbricated in the fabric of buildings, such as the zipper text in 1928 in the façade of the buildings with outdoor electronic messages and breaking news displayed to the passing by. In 1976, the Specacolor sign system was invented by Goerge Stonbey using CRT technology and inspired contemporary electronic advertising billboards.

Nowadays the One Time Square building is almost all covered with coloured LED video screens and the building had no occupancy. In the past, it was the headquarters of the New York Times newspaper. We can see that through history the media used various medium to display information. The information displayed in the city are mainly commercial and inevitable according to McQuire (2010). Times Square place became a symbol in the city where thousand of people gathered and passed by every day. The lighting also plays a significant role in the city in creating a unique urban atmosphere. Marshall McLuhan (1964) suggested to concentrate on the medium of the media and not the content with his notorious argument, ‘The medium is the message’. He argued that the light bulb is a medium without any content as it enable night activities.

Times Square Moment: Tracey Emin, I Promise to Love You, February 2013

The media surfaces incorporated in buildings present a democratic potential for the public to engage in social and public life (McQuire, 2010). In line with this idea, interesting artistic projects seek to address another message to the public and share video art on large screens at Times square in the same screens used by advertising companies. Tim Tomskins – President of Times Square Alliance said  “for Time Square moment , for the first time, we have arts in the screens is created for the screens. So the combination is been on all the screens, in black and white and been to be the reflection merely of the energy and the light in the city was really very striking.”


McLuhan, M. (1964) Understanding Media: The Extension of Man, Routledge.

McQuire, S. (2010) ‘Rethinking media events: large screens, public space broadcasting and beyond’ New Media and Society, Vol. 12, No. 4


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