Karin Becker, Professor emerita, Department of Media Studies, Stockholm University

Being There from Afar: Local and global events as mediated through screen practices in public space

The research project Changing Places investigated how local and transnational events are mediated through public space, focusing on the screen practices that come into play as large format and handheld screens are used in arenas of public life.  Taking its point of departure in events that captured the attention of publics in different parts of the world, we explored how these events are recorded and remediated through social and cultural practices that involve screen technologies.

The public viewing areas (PVAs) established for pre-planned mega events provided a central focus of the three-year project. Examples include studies of participants who gathered in ’fan parks’ during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, in the PVAs established for royal weddings in London and in Stockholm, and for the 2012 London Summer Olympics. The collaborative methodology involved integrating 1) photographic documentation of the sites and the participants, 2) brief interviews with participants, and 3) on-line observation during each event of news- and other relevant websites.

The research provided significant insights into the changing meanings of place and locality: We found the centrality and significance of the original site was displaced by the distant screen, where people gathered for a collective experience and participation in the event.  An additional consequence of this form of public viewing is the emergecne of the PVA itself as a news site, where media gather to report on the event and its publics. In these mediatised public spaces, complex reflexive relationships arise between media content (as televised on the large screen) and the public and media professionals gathered there, as they engage with these events, both on- and off-screen.

All seminars in the series.

This is a joint seminar together with the Media cluster.