Alright, we can agree most of old nature has been altered by human activity. We’re not just talking rain forest, icecaps and genetically modified fruit and kittens. Now you might be wondering, where is the limit?
Well, the recently unveiled ‘skyscreen’ is the biggest digital LED screen in Asia at this moment. It stretches 250m above the pedestrian walkway at newly opened shopping mall ‘The Place’ located within the central business districts of Beijing, China.
When I first spotted the skyscreen the ‘swimming dophin’ video was playing, evoking an surrealistic feeling as if the whole square was underwater (picture below). I expected some obligate advertising would come after a while, but that wasn’t the case. I sat there for more than hour (having our coffee at the local Starbucks) and was treated on a show of various crafty video’s. The only ‘advertising’ I discovered on the skyscreen were the propaganda video’s promoting the heroism of the Chinese communist ideal. How appropriate considering the fact that the skyscreen is integrated in a shopping mall, hey?
Although, usually I tend to be skeptical about the tiling of public space with LED screens, which seldom enter into a relationship with their environment; by default they are isolated, draining elements that do nothing but try to seize the undivided attention of by passers. The wonderful thing about the skyscreen (maybe it better to call it ‘screensky’?) is that it is deliberately placed in periphery of our attention. As a result of its modest and well chosen location it integrates beautifully within the environment, providing the Beijing population with a wonderful and non-obtrusive immersive experience. If they keep up the skillful and high level quality of visuals, the skyscreen may grow to become one of the major icons of Beijing. In general, it sets a new standard for urban screens. If this is the future of public LED screens, I don’t mind if they tile some more here and there.