Screen junkie

Screens have undoubtedly changed the way we as human’s function. Constantly seeking enlightenment from our hand held beams of light, mobile phones especially have made us more aware that interaction does not always need to be face-to-face or necessarily with another person.

The immediate connectedness that mobile phones allow, has led to the evolution of public interactive spaces. Whether it’s an interactive module in a shopping center or a public television in a city square, screens seem to greet us wherever we turn.

There is growing interest into the different uses of public screens, which are being explored. Mirijam Struppek who, in his paper on urban screens, quotes the work of Professor Wolfgang Christ, “Public space is the city’s medium for communication with itself…” (2006). Struppek also concludes that, “The balance between content, location, and type of screen determines the success of the interaction with the audience and prevents noise and visual pollution”. With this, it is clear that the consideration of external factors is important in deeming a public screen effective.

Public screens are used for different reasons. Advertising and promotion is most common, with the public generally feeling satisfied that they get something in return (the joy of interactivity).

Photo booths have become one of the most popular ways for advertisers to channel their brand or product to an audience. They are a fun, interactive way for a brand to win over their target demographic. This year at Sydney’s Big Day Out, VANS ®, a popular skate brand, set up a photo booth within a sales tent. Festivalgoers (the sheer size of this crowd is illustrated in the previous hyperlink) were immediately attracted to the novelty, as not only did they receive a FREE strip of the photos but also had the chance for their happy snaps to be uploaded to the official Facebook page. This technique is smart for two reasons:

  1. The photo booth physically lured the audience into the sales tent, increasing the brands chance of making sales on physical items such as T-shirts and shoes.
  2. After leaving the event, those who left with a photo strip would head to the Facebook page to find their picture, cleverly increasing the chance of the brand making future sales and boosting their social media ‘likes’.

This demonstrates that not only does the public screen have an effect on present behaviour, but if marketed correctly, can help boost the image and success of a brand or company. From the picture below, it is clear that I have become somewhat of a photo booth junkie. The middle picture was actually taken at Big Day Out, the example I used above. And to illustrate the success of the techniques used by VANS – my friend actually bought a hat. How’s that for clever and interactive promotion?photo-10


M, Struppek. (2006) Urban screens – The urbane potential of public screens for interaction. Accessed online at:


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