Multiple Screens as Material

We live in a media and technology saturated world. Media historian Friedberg (2006) states that we know the world by what we see - through a window, in a frame and on a screen - and argues that "as we spend more of our time staring into the frames of movies, television, computers, hand-held displays […] how the world is framed may be as important as what is contained within that frame".

The research program Multiple Screens as Material particularly focuses on screens and their function as 'material' in the composition of media places. Importantly, screens are a critical building block of most such media places. Examples of such environments include: a coffee shop in a college city (many laptop screens), an airport such as Umeå City Airport (multiple large displays organized around you in the arrivals hall) or Times Square in New York City (where enormous screens not only taper buildings, but become a kind of rich texture). Nuclear control rooms, labs, sport bars, art and exhibition spaces, industrial vehicles and athletics stadiums unsurprisingly feature many screens, but we increasingly also find multiple screens in offices, entertainment centers, cultural heritage institutions, and anywhere where people engage with the screens of various mobile devices.

The two principal research questions are:
1) How can we understand screens, and in particular multiple screens, as material manifestations and representational enactments in different types of media places?
2) What role do screens play in post-1980 notions of research infrastructure and how can multiple screens facilitate different types of knowledge production?

The research questions above correspond to two main research strands in the program:

1) Screens as material. Specific research questions include: How can screens be described in terms of material and texturing? How can screens be seen as an architectural element? What does it mean to have digitally connected screenscapes (basically extending the notion of frame)? How can we understand screens and multiple screen representation historically? What kinds of representation (and enactment) do different types of screenscapes afford? How can 'immersion' be applied both to surround screenscapes and distributed sets of screens? How do we co-orient and participate in relation to screen-rich environments and content?

2) Knowledge production and screens. Specific research questions include: How can the
central role of screens in early discourse on virtual reality and present day discourse on
research infrastructure be analyzed? What is required to conceptualize and produce narratives across multiple screens (as opposed to narratives for single screen environments)? How can arts-based and traditional modes of knowledge production influence each other in screen rich environments? What other sensory and interactional features are important to actualizing and enacting screen-supported knowledge production?


Participating researchers and staff:

- Patrik Svensson, HUMlab
- Johan von Boer, HUMlab
- Anna Foka, HUMlab
- Mattis Lindmark, HUMlab
- Roger Mähler, HUMlab