Makiko's assignment

BIG MAN in Osaka

Have you been to Osaka? It is the second largest city in Japan.


The place on the pictures is called “BIG MAN” which is a popular place to meet up with people like friends and such, because of the remarkable big screens situated there. It’s located close to Osaka station on the Hankyu railway (where 6 major rail lines are gathering at central Osaka). Specifically there are two screens on each side of the stairs towards the entrance of the station. The right screen is called “BIG MAN” and the other is called “co-BIG MAN” (which means small BIG MAN. Sounds a bit weird?). This space is surrounded by many shops, cafes, advertisements, taxi stands, and a public road.

The people left of the stairs is looking at BIG MAN.

We often arrange to meet there before going out somewhere, so in this locality many people who don’t know each other share time and space in front of the big screens. You can choose what you want to do while waiting for someone there, ex. seeing some kinds of shows on the screen, listening to music on your MP3 player, checking e-mail on the mobile phone, or just observing other people. Your choice of what to do there does not have to be just one thing. You can chat with friends either while watching the screen or looking at your mobile. And unconsciously you see the neon advertisements while being surrounded by people at the same time. I think that BIG MAN is exactly what Manovich called: physical space filled with electronic and visual information.
BIG MAN can be seen as monitored space as well. The BIG MAN is a part of the station which is under the public control. The people there are exposed to surveillance cameras and are under observation by the other people gathered there. People’s behaviors are unconsciously regulated as in “panopticon” by an invisible power, the controller of which can’t exactly be identified.

In addition to the unique feature as augmented space of BIG MAN, we can find that it is also Hybrid space, because communication by mobiles is taking place. I am sure that you can see the kind of people there, who never let go off their mobile phones. Waiting for somebody is usually boring at least for me, but we can kill time by contacting other people in their location, in which you are not. The mobile phone can take you to wherever you want to go. Mobile devices create a more dynamic relationship with the Internet, embedding it in outdoor, everyday activities, we can no longer address the disconnection between physical and digital spaces (de Souza e Silva).

Many people do not only pass through the BIG MAN but also stop by, wait, interact with other people, engage in using electronic things such as the big screens, or watching advertisements while using small electronic devices and so on. BIG MAN is built by the connection of mobility and communication and materialized by social networks developed simultaneously in physical and digital spaces (de Souza e Silva).

written by Makiko Morita

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