DAVE COLANGELO (Ryerson University)
Large architectural projections and media façades are turning buildings into screens, providing an outlet (and inlet) for ontological ventilation between the digital in the physical. More than this, proximate engagements via sensors or mobile phones and more distant participation aided by digital networks turn buildings into interfaces. With this the various possibilities and pitfalls of spectatorship, participation, control, and representation of digital media are combined with those of the built realm. I call these buildings and the unique interface effects they generate ‘massive media’. These very large, expressive, and reactive surfaces, such as the LED-laden tip of the Empire State Building (and the popular Twitter and Instagram feeds that accompany it), or the art-inflected illuminated public projection playground of Montreal’s Quartiers Des Spectacles, draw upon a history of monuments, architecture, public art, public space, spectacle, advertising, cinema, media, and data visualization, while in turn challenging these categories and the boundaries between them. Through interviews with curators and producers, archival research, and social media analysis, I begin to formulate some theoretical and practical contours of this emerging form by probing the system, social semiotics, participation, reception, an culture of the examples listed above. Specifically, my research demonstrates how massive media create dense transfer points in communication meshworks that seek to combine the rich social semiotic resources of on- and off-line publics and spaces and the possibilities and practices of new and old techno-social dispositifs, blurring distinctions between them and creating novel experiences and encounters for discursive ends that range from the opening up of new parliaments for democratic potential and cultural connection to the seductive capture of affect and attention by advertisers and city marketers. I conclude by arguing for an increased role of artistic intervention and curation in massive media to cultivate and expand its transgressive possibilities.