New screen-based sign systems and electric surfaces are re-shaping urban environments and becoming the devices through which we frame our experiences. ELECTRIC SIGNS (2013) directed by Alice Arnold explores this new screen culture as it unfolds in the global city. The conversation with the director following the screening will address the notion of spectacle and perspectives on future critical engagement with urban screens. Part of the project Urban Media Aesthetics curated by Tanya Toft.
[Dec 3] Screening + Conversation: Alice Arnold’s Electric Signs
Tanya Toft / Alice Arnold
Tuesday, Dec 3, 7 to 9pm (Film Screening: 7pm, Conversation and Q&A: 8pm)
596 Broadway, #602 | New York, NY 10012 | Phone: 212-431-1130
Subway: F/M/D/B Broadway/Lafayette, R Prince, 6 Bleeker
ELECTRIC SIGNS (2013) is a poetic and timely documentary about signs, screens and the urban environment, directed by Alice Arnold. The film’s narrator, a city observer modeled on the critic Walter Benjamin, takes us on a journey thru a variety of urban landscapes, examining public spaces and making connections between light, perception and the culture of attractions in today’s consumer society.
The film is structured as a documentary essay in the spirit of city symphony films, and features Hong Kong, Los Angeles and New York, as well as Tokyo, Las Vegas, Shanghai, Vienna, Macau, Berlin, Seoul, Prague, and Kaohsiung. Also featured are interviews with prominent lighting designers; advertising and marketing professionals; urban sociologists and visual culture experts; community activists; a public space artist whose work offers alternative ideas about the use of media in the public sphere; and with people in the city who walk, sit, work, shop and daydream in these spaces. The spine of the film is a voice-over narrative by a ‘city observer’ (inspired by the work of Walter Benjamin) who takes us on a journey thru a variety of urban landscapes and who weaves together the film’s themes, cities and various personalities.
The conversation following the screening between the director Alice Arnold and curator Tanya Toft will address the notions of spectacle, politics and perspectives on future critical engagement with urban screens. The screening and conversation is part of an ongoing curatorial project titled Urban Media Aesthetics (urbanmediaaesthetics.org), launching in December 2013 and curated by Tanya Toft. This is a platform for research, reflection and critical discussion on urban media aesthetics. Its ongoing research is conducted through interviews with curators, artists, architects, cultural planners and artistic producers who, through their practices, have contributed to the shaping of a territory, which is also the territory of possibilities for future practices.
The platform facilitates various public events based on the issues brought up in the underlying research and interviews, through screenings, salons and urban art installations, in partnership with various platforms and communities for art and technology. It also facilitates a series of critical writing responses, which from multiple viewpoints investigate themes and subjects particularly relevant to urban media aesthetics now. Urban Media Aesthetics is initiated with support of CuratorLab / Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design.
Alice Arnold‘s films and photography work investigate the urban environment and visual culture. Her most recent film is “Electric Signs,” which explores signs, screens, public space issues and visual culture in several cities around the world. Her work has screened at the Museum of Modern Art, among other festivals and venues, and she is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship (Filmmaking, Hong Kong) and a New York Fellowship for the Arts (photography). In addition to making media, she also teaches about media and design issues.
Tanya Toft is a curator based in New York City. She works with media aesthetic art forms and develops exhibition schemes for architecture and urban environments, independently and as associate curator for New York-based Streaming Museum. Toft is a Ph.D. Fellow at the Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies at Copenhagen University, researching curatorial practices with urban media aesthetics. Urban Media Aesthetics is also the title of a curatorial research project that investigates a contemporary criticality in this subject, with ongoing research through interviews with artists, curators, architects and cultural producers whose visions and practices have been significant to the shaping of a contemporary discourse.
In 2013 she is curating and producing Nordic Outbreak with Nina Colosi, a touring exhibition project exploring new dynamics in Nordic moving image with urban contextual installations in NYC and across the Nordic region, presented by Streaming Museum. She is co-curator of the second SP_Urban Digital Festival 2013 presented by Galeria de Arte Digital do SESI, São Paulo, curated with Marilia Pasculli.
Photo Credits: Alice Arnold