Look below at what Newcastle City Council seems to think is progress It is the new giant double sided advertising screen at the top of Northumberland Street. As reported in the ‘Evening Chronicle’, the city’s Outdoor’s Chief Executive, Steve Smith, is over the moon: “We are delighted to have won the right to build and operate these screens in this highly desirable city and location.” When our local Labour rulers talk of ” ReNewcastle: Renewal and Regeneration”, the end result seems to be degradation or demolition or both, be it more urban sprawl or little monstrosities in the city centre. WreckNewcastle more likely!
The new live digital screens belong to UK-based City Outdoor Media. It operates a further seven screens across cities in the UK, including a further four full motion screens in Manchester city centre.
The ‘Chronicle’ also reported that Stephen Patterson, of the Business Improvement District Company, NE1, thinks that this screen, in addition to those at Swan House and Central Motorway have added to the “visual animation of the region’s capital city, especially after dark”, creating “a vibrant shopping experience… another positive step”.
Actually it adds to the oppressive volume of advertising that bombards us daily. It is ugly and intrusive. It is symptomatic of a mentality that cannot see beyond a society based on spend, spend, spend. If advertisers are looking for outlets and the cash-strapped council looking for new income streams they should focus on desirable things such as paid sponsorship of litter collection, street cleaning and recycling.
In the meantime, however, they are taking us to a world that resembles the city streets seen in the opening sequences of the film Blade Runner, though, when switched off, it is reminiscent of the alien obelisk in Kubrick’s ‘2001’. Perhaps soon there will be airships floating over our heads with advertising too. Instead we should be following the lead of cities such as Grenoble and banning billboards, screens and so forth.
We might also wind up NE1. Companies like that are too rooted in an unsustainable model of urban development.