[ISEA2011] Paper: Erkki Huhtamo – Interfacing The Tall with the Mobile: An Archaeological Investigation of the Mediatization of Outdoor Space


Media scholars have traditionally focused on audiovisual forms that are experienced indoors in static settings; cinema-going and television spectatorship provide good examples. Researchers are slowly beginning to realize that such an emphasis covers only a part of the complex terrain that constitutes media culture. That part may even be shrinking, thanks to current developments within urban environments and experiences. Not only are metropolitan cities covered by high-tech media attractions such are giant LED-display screens; a growing number of citizens are walking or cruising through such spaces with media devices in their hands. The current smart phone revolution may be just a beginning for much more dramatic technological, behavioral and cultural changes.

This paper will approach this situation from a media-archaeological perspective, trying to understand the current modalities of outdoor media use by excavating the processes of their becoming and the various cultural forms that have anticipated them. These earlier forms are not treated as clear genealogical steps leading to the present condition. Rather, they are analyzes are symptomatic manifestations of contradictory motives and discursive fragments that have at various times and contexts highlighted issues the current media culture may erroneously believe it is encountering for the first time. Such issues cover, for example, the saturation of the city space by commercial messages like billboards, and the attitudes toward them; the varied early forms of “mobile media” such as “walking human posters” (sandwichmen), and the practices of using fans, watches, and other forms of “proto-wearable” media; and the complex relationships that developed between them.

  • Dr. Erkki Huhtamo, Finland,¬†University of California Los Angeles, USA

Full text (PDF) p. 1247-1250 [title slightly different]