Interactive Urban Screens:
Public Play & Co-Performance

Module Description

This module will examine how the proliferation of interactive screens – large and small – on city streets and in our pockets are changing buildings and bodies into new kinds of interfaces and adaptive displays. Creating dramatic interactive public spaces interactive screens are transforming the ways in which we experience the urban environment, our community and ourselves. Enabled by smartphones, tablets, and wearable computing connected to GPS, cameras and distributed sensor networks; the city turned interface is increasingly responsive encouraging new social behaviors informed by cinema, gaming, and social media.

Module Level: Introductory - requires no prior knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • introduce key concepts and new human-computer interaction models for dynamic, socially co-constructed, collective experience in public spaces;
  • assess the attributes and argue the quality of public interaction with adaptive display configurations, and the real-time mediation of data and information in urban environments;
  • demonstrate independent online research and critical writing skills.
Suggested Learning Activities and Assignments

Through a series of short expert video interviews with artists, technologists, curators and urban scholars linked to case studies students will be asked to reflect critically on the city as interface.


Michael Longford is an Associate Professor in Digital Media at York University, and co-director of The Mobile Media Lab (MML), which comprises an interdisciplinary research team exploring wireless communications, rich media content development for mobile technologies, and locative media practices. His most recent project, “Tentacles,” uses a smartphone to create a multi‐user ambient gaming experience projected into public spaces. In 2011, “Tentacles” was included in the exhibition, Talk to Me at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Michael has served on the Academic Technology Advisory Committee, which develops University policy and makes recommendations for how best to integrate technology in support of pedagogy for eLearning. With Professor Judith Schwarz, he also led a three-year initiative integrating eLearning in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design funded by the University Academic Initiative Fund.