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Emergent Visions Response: Machiko Kusahara


Machiko Kusahara is an internationally recognized researcher in media art and theory, who has been publishing and curating in the interdisciplinary field connecting art, science, technology, culture, sociology and history. She is given Ph.D in engineering from University of Tokyo for her theoretical research in this field.

Kusahara’s dialogue “From the Movie Screen to Moving Screens: Life in Tokyo with Moving Images” was a reflection and observation of the use of screens in the public space in Japan. The talk focuses on the functions and the social impact of screens, using various examples with different applications of screens to create an interactive media.


Kusahara also highlighted the fact that audiences were often fascinated by screens that were interactive. That brings us to the daily life of an average Japanese white/blue collar where the majority of their time was spent commuting on public transport such as trains. The commute time often accompanied by the use of mobile phones to play games or videos was a source of entertainment for themselves. Screens, being a driving force in Japan, could often be found on the train as well, whether they are used for advertising purposes or for public service announcements.

In recent years, urban public screens have also emerged on the exterior of buildings, as large-scale projections on several architectures, on billboards, and also on moving vehicles. The ad trucks are one of many ways to show how screens have evolved in transmitting information to passers-by.

Ad trucks:

Screens + Interactivity

Kusahara shared in her dialogue several examples of how screens were taken to the next level by having them paired with interactivity to engage more public involvement. Major advertising companies have came up with innovative ways to encourage the crowd participation with their ads.

From mobile screen to the big screen:
In Adidas’ The Highest Goal”, crowds were given the chance to directly interact with the display on public screens from their own mobile phone screens.

From computer/mobile phone screen to projection:
As part of a launch for the Xbox360 game “Blue Dragon”, IMG SRC inc. made shadow projections of dragons at a carpark in Shibuya where the crowd was able to be part of the screen. People could also participate from the official website and they could control the movement of their shadows shown in Shibuya from anywhere around the world.

Old Public Screens

Kusahara made a comparison between olden-day public screens in Asia and in the U.S. Outdoor cinemas in Asia were held in a way where viewers were sharing public space while for the drive-in theaters in the US, movie-goers are still confined within the private space of their vehicles despite being parked in a public space.

However, both cinemas were lacking in audience participation. Traditional screens was not enough to attract the public’s attention. Screens needed to be transformed and made interactive to encourage crowd involvement. In order for interactivity to come in play on screens, the content needs to be participatory and have transmedia capabilities.

Public Screens in Singapore Then

Wayang Kulit:

Wayang Pacak:

Community Television:

Public Screens in Singapore Now

Projection Mapping on the National Museum:

SMRT North-South Line Display Panels:

Interactive Mall Directory:

Augmented Reality Photo Booth:

Three Great Light Shows:

Future Possibilities with Public Screens

The projects shared in Kusahara’s presentation all happened in the last 15 years. Screens have been transformed and have served different purposes for the public. If we could achieve so much in the advancements of screens, could you imagine what have yet to emerge from the next 15 years?

AR contact lenses and hologram models are just one of the few possibilities in the transformation of screens. With developers already working on such ideas, future feats in public screens are endless.

Done by: Goh Cher See & Anam Musta’ein