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Media, Places, and Assemblies

Media, Places, and Assemblies

From Videowalls to "Smart" Environments


This essay explores the complex entanglements of media, place, and (public) space. On reviewing the spatial turn in media studies and the media turn in cultural geography, the article discusses Anna McCarthy’s well-known “spatial” discussion of Dara Birnbaum’s installation Rio Videowall in downtown Atlanta. The latter serves as a test case to ground and criticize some of the insights within those recent paradigms. In the second part of the discussion, Latour’s “Parliament of Things” is foregrounded as an alternative way of thematizing the role that media technologies play in the production of place. Latour’s Parliament rethinks place politically in terms of dynamic networks that raise questions about modes of representing place and strategies of visibility in public space. Ultimately, considering the matter of place and space as a networked assemblage of subjects, objects, and media technologies allows us to interrogate the democratic nature of the media environments in which we live.


About the author

Ginette Verstraete is Professor of Comparative Arts and Media at the VU, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her current research explores the significance of participatory urbanism in Western Europe, from 1960s to the current moment and focuses on the role that media, art and design have played in this.