Occupy the Screen builds on the practice-based research and development of a former installation Picnic on the Screen originally developed for the BBC Public Video Screen at the Glastonbury Festival of Performing Arts, UK, in 2009. In this new project Paul Sermon and Charlotte Gould have carefully considered the technical and conceptual aspect of the former work, to develop an original site-specific work for Connecting Cities. This new installation pushes the playful, social and public engagement aspects of the work into new cultural and political realms in an attempt to ‘reclaim the streets and screens’ through new technical developments in ludic interaction, camera recognition and HD videoconferencing.
Inspired in part by 3D street art, the motivation behind this proposal also comes from the historical films of Lumière contemporaries, Mitchell & Kenyon, whose films of public crowds in the 1900’s present a striking similarity to the way audiences react and respond in Sermon & Gould’s telematic urban screen installations. These pioneering fairground screenings of audiences filmed earlier the same day possess all the traits, albeit the latency in processing, of live telepresent interaction, whereby the audience play directly to the camera and occupy this new public space by performing to themselves and others when screened later.
The installation functions equally as a single site installation between two separate audience groups in front of a single public screen or between two geographically distant audiences at separate screens. Using a familiar telematics technique, the installation takes live oblique camera shots from above the screen of each of these two audience groups, located on a large 100m2 blue ground sheet and combines them on screen in a single composited image.
The backgrounds to the audiences’ actions will directly reference their social setting and range from simple retro dance floors that light up like coloured paving slabs as they step on them to complex animations, trails, destruction, decay, games, and 3d graffiti etc. as a result of the participant’s movements and the interaction of the remote audiences.

Occupy the Screen by Paul Sermon © Paul Sermon + Charlotte Gould


Artist biography

Paul Sermon is Professor of Visual Communication at the University of Brighton, UK. He has developed a series of celebrated interactive telematic art installations that have received international acclaim. Paul was previously Professor of Creative Technology at the University of Salford and has worked for over twenty years as an active academic researcher and creative practitioner, primarily in the field of interactive media arts.
Having worked under the visionary cybernetic artist Professor Roy Ascott as an undergraduate Fine Art student at the Newport School of Fine Art in the mid 1980s, Paul Sermon went on to establish himself as a leading pioneer of interactive media art, winning the prestigious Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Linz, Austria, shortly after completing his MFA at the University of Reading in 1991. An accolade that then took Paul to Finland in the early 1990’s to develop one of the most ground breaking telepresent video installations of his career Telematic Dreaming in 1992.


Charlotte Gould is Senior Lecturer in Digital Media at the University of Salford, School of Arts & Media and has developed a number of interactive environments for urban big screens that explore user identity and the notion of a floating narrative. Through her research she explores the creative and cultural potential that urban screens have to offer in the digital media age and how these emerging technologies and the digital infrastructure impact on the way that the public interacts within the urban environment.


Tech info

Internet videoconference/ telepresence installation