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9th December 2015

Screen Theory

Elliott Mills takes a characteristically flippant look at the Alan Gilbert Learning Common’s newest, and most prominent, feature

“You know that building full of screens? Let’s attach a giant screen onto it!”

So went the talks months ago, when connecting a huge display screen to the Learning Commons was nothing more than an idea, a thing unattempted yet, projected into the mind’s eye as from above.

The plan’s fruition follows many failed proposals, including suggestions to attach a 10 metre tall book onto the main library and a towering ice skate above the entrance to the ice skating arena. The former idea was abandoned for its regressive nature, whilst the latter came with the safety problem of a large overhanging blade and the logistical problem of the university not having an ice skating arena.

The screen has now settled in and it is honestly difficult to take an irreverent look at it. This is especially true at night, when looking at it risks temporary blinding. When considering how this light is spent, some call the screen a waste of energy. The rumoured intention was that it would mesmerise the masses at the open day. I fear however that it was presented to prospective students with all the confusion and misplaced effort of a pet dragging a dead pigeon into its owner’s front room in the hope of impressing them.

Some compare the screen to that of Manchester Metropolitan. This comparison falters when you remember that MMU’s screen displays information relating to their university that extends beyond the name of their university. This, and the fact that ours is bigger, sets the two apart. Man Met, trying to think outside the box, say: “It’s not size that matters, it’s how you use it.”

They fail to grasp the real point of our screen: the longer this screen exceeds the tyranny of traditional classifications of what is deemed ‘useful’, the more these outdated notions can be subverted and reassessed. About time, if you ask me. Step aside Bentham.

With screen’s narrative now involving young people, visual display and unclear aims, Dazed and Confused magazine are already (maybe) expressing both interest and disinterest in a recorded interview with the screen, which will simultaneously be screened on the screen—at which point we will all forget which university we go to.

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