Negotiating the Mediated City: Everyday Encounters with Urban Screens

Krajina, Zlatan. 2011. Negotiating the Mediated City: Everyday Encounters with Urban Screens. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In this project I explore everyday encounters with urban screens. I define urban screens as image interfaces that occupy (material) public urban space and represent other (symbolic) space. I conceptualise encounters with urban screens as events of media consumption in which passers-by are invited to communicate, without the possibility of pressing control buttons. I draw on the perspective of phenomenological geography, which understands place as an experiential dimension of space, sustained through habit, and on media domestication studies, which analyse how people incorporate media technologies and texts in familiar spaces. My grounded qualitative research encompasses four different screen placements: street and underground advertising panels, an architectural interface in a promenade, and a public art installation. A triangulation of my observations, participants’ diaries and depth- interviews suggests that passers-by compensate for the lack of material controls by ‘taming’ the screens (learning about their position, size, scale and mode of address), and by making use of screens in responding to various elements of the site-specific situations of passing by (presence of others, traffic, weather). Passers-by develop what I call ‘situational uses of urban screens’, such as managing interaction with unknown others, escapism, gathering potentially useful information, and focussing thoughts. I understand these ethnomethodological appropriations of screens as forms of pedestrian tactical resistance to institutional spatial arrangements. In order to maintain their practices of looking around and moving through routines, passers-by make their uses of screens habitual, and develop knowledge of the varieties of urban screen technologies and images. Through such intimate negotiations of technologically mediated urban spaces, people domesticate urban screens as taken-for-granted elements of their everyday spaces and landscapes of media consumption. I conclude that passers-by experience the changes of technologies and images as spatial changes, which make their habituation of mediated cities laborious and require their domestication of urban screens to be continuous.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2012 11:18

Last Modified:

06 Sep 2022 22:04


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