Sense of place and meaning, how new media can resignify urban landscapes

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
P1 OPINNÄYTTEET D 2019 Blanco Vicentini
Degree programme
New Media Design and Production
When we think about the manifestation of New Media in city space, thefirst things that usually comes to mind is bright screens advertising chain stores and services accessible from any part of the world. It is self-evident that our imagination of new media in the landscape is linked to consumption, and that propaganda modality is creating more “places” than any other new media in use. Could it be that such screens (and their low engagement threshold) are more effective than any attention-grabbing installation in sedimenting an idea of place to the citizen? Attention grabbing is different from attention keeping. There’s a gap in literature when analyzing new media enhancements in regarding of city landscapes. Urban design doesn’t necessarily follow the urban advancements of new media and the opposite, new technologies not necessarily are applied with success into designing the cities of now. This thesis asks if it is possible to use new media to facilitate an opposite process, in which New Media contributes to resignify and enhance the sense of place, by tapping into the potential of new media to create meaning, expanding contexts, the pursuit of identity and facilitating new modes of social behavior such as play. The First chapter is for defining for architecture and sociological theories, what defines public space, and its influence. The Second investigates how New Media iterates, its technologies and design in with Smart Cities discourse. The Third chapter is foresighting how identity and other theories play roles in the construction of contemporary cities. The Fourth analyzes my artistic practice through a period of 5 years (2013–2018), combining with perspectives of meaning in resignifying urban landscapes, by creating places. The Fifth is an analysis looking towards the future possibilities in which technology enhancements are in pace together with opportunities for development of urban areas, the importance of new media and urban design perspectives and reflecting about the difficulties in implementing those. The thesis outlines a phenomena of resignification — change of meaning assigned to a landscape. The work focuses on common patterns used in the discourse of smart cities as a reflection of new media influence and the lack of thoughts often put when building new urban areas - thus the need of better strategies for public space planning, being them more agile and inclusive of diverse design fields and its citizens – a combination of media technologies and an agile and experimental mindset to make a difference. Technology per se won’t generate meaning, but the major paradigm shift that could bring to our urban landscapes and our lives, is immense.
Reunanen, Markku
Thesis advisor
Kholina, Anna
place, meaning, new media, resignification, urban landscapes, interaction design, new media design, future
Other note
Vicentini, Andre