Light Attack is a media artwork, as well as social experiment, performed in public urban spaces. While driving through the city, an animated virtual character is projected onto the cityscape, exploring places 'to go' and places 'not to go', according to the popular Lonely Planet travel guide. Light Attack elaborates the concept of the'moving moving' image - the projected moving imagery corresponds to the movement through the space while the character's behavior is influenced by the urban context and passers-by. The car's movement through the city determines the virtual character's behavior, utilizing custom computer software that arranges short pre-recorded video loops into seamless motion patterns, allowing for real-time interaction with the architecture and passers-by. The piece has been performed in a variety of neighborhoods in Los Angeles (USA, 2004), Florence (2005), Boston (2006), Hong Kong (2006), Seoul (2006), and Mexico City (2007). It wishes to illuminates the condition of public life within socially and culturally diverse urban spaces.
The paper discusses Light Attack in the context of emerging urban screens in Asia, Europe and the Arab Emirates and the United States, raising questions about privacy and property. How does this redefine the public sphere? How does ubiquitous 'projection' and LED screen technology change the environment in which we live? What happens if media art abandons the dedicated channels for media distribution and advertisement? The paper juxtaposes cultural programming for urban screens and media architecture to site-specific art as commissioned by public art programs in the United States since 1989 (dismantling of R. Serra's Titled Arc at Federal Plaza, NYC). It relates contemporary media art practice to notions of site-specificity in public art, such as phenomenological aspects of the site (scale, topological, and architectural features), institutional critique, and discursive practices that employ social, economic and political processes into the creation of the artwork.
The shift from the notion of architectural buildings as passive objects towards active'mediatecture', broadcasting messages 24/7, present novel challenges for city governance, building codes, and urban planning. Calls for 'air-time' dedicated to art and culture are being expressed at export forums, such as the Urban Screens Conference (Amsterdam, 2005; Manchester, 2007). Dedicated places like the Victory Media Network in Dallas (Texas), are specifically designed around movable screens, dedicating their programming to a large degree to artworks with an ongoing call for artists' submissions. The paper illuminates both the opportunities and challenges of the urban screen as an emergent ubiquitous medium for artistic expression.