HAVE YOU been to Gangnam recently? Near Gangnam Station, 22 giant poles were erected and have become one of the greatest attractions of Gangnam Daero, which starts from Gangnam Station and extends to the Kyobo Tower crossroads. These poles are called the media poles, officially known as “The Internet Art Media Poles (IAMP),” which were established as part of the Gangnam U-Street Project. The media poles are open to anybody, and all the functions are free of charge.
Box 1: Gangnam U-Street Project
This project was suggested because the main streets of Gangnam were in disarray due to lack of sidewalks for pedestrians, overflowing illegal signboards, and the decline of retail districts in Gangnam. This project aims at the overall repair of Gangnam by renewing sidewalks, street stalls, public facilities, and untidy signboards.
Various functions of the media poles
1. Public facilities combined into one
Public facilities like streetlights, information booths, and maps of public transportation routes were integrated into the media poles. This change made Gangnam Daero look tidier and wider than before.
2. A media art gallery on the street
Famous media artists’ works are constantly exhibited on media poles, allowing pedestrians to enjoy them. The exhibited artworks are changed every three months.
3. Citizen participation & information services
- Take a photo and send it to your e-mail account.
A couple taking a photo in front of a media pole.
- Play games while waiting for your friends.
- Read electronic newspapers.
People can read electronic newspapers at the media poles.
- Participate in polls and read the cultural, administrative, and general information provided by the district office of Gangnam-gu.
- Look up local shopping information and public transportation routes.
- Use free internet with your laptop, mp3 player, and other electronic devices within 50m of the media poles.
4. A medium of advertisement
Since the media poles have a wide Light Emitting Diodes (LED) screen, they are an effective tool for advertisement. The ad of a family restaurant displayed on a media pole a few months ago received great attention. However, Seoul City coordinates the media poles to show 50% media arts, 30% commercial advertisement, and 20% public information from 6 a.m. to midnight in order to prevent any partiality to a single function.
The public’s reaction toward media poles
Media poles were completed in March this year and were in trial operation for three months. Unfortunately, the media poles were out of order for a month due to some problems in the process of handing over the management to another company. Little criticism was raised regarding the media poles because they were established at an enormous expense.
Also, the shape of the media poles was once controversial among the public. Jung Sung-min (Urban Design Office, Gangnam District Office) says, “Some even said that media poles reminded them of obelisks placed in tombs because of its big size and dark color.” However, the problems are solved, and media poles are well managed, gaining popularity among the youth. Retail sellers, particularly whose stores are located in front of the media poles, also like this new feature because the media poles have a higher possibility of attracting more customers.
The future of media poles
As an attempt to make media poles a symbol of Gangnam, the features and functions of media poles will be introduced through the media, including newspaper, magazines, and television. As more people come to see the media poles, an increasing number of people will be interested in the technology used in them. Therefore, media poles can also help attract events and exhibitions pertaining to the IT industry.
As media poles were established with great expense and consumes a great amount of electricity, it is important for the Gangnam District Office and the commissioned firm to manage the media poles in an efficient manner and check the facilities regularly. If a media pole is out of order, proper countermeasures should be implemented right away. “Since it has not even been a year since media poles have been created, some unexpected problems will unavoidably arise, but we will try to solve these problems step by step,” says Jung. If the media poles are well-managed and constantly upgraded, they will become a symbolic figure of not only Gangnam but also Korea’s cutting-edge IT.
Box 2: The media bus shelter in Apgujeong
As a part of the City Gallery Project, the Gangnam District Office made a media bus shelter in front of the Apgujeong Galleria Department Store. It was built to create an artistic bus shelter that matches the surrounding atmosphere. The colors of lights and texts shown on the wall constantly change with Light Emitting Diodes (LED). The texts deliver hopeful messages to the public, such as love, sky, and dream. This new media bus shelter will contribute to upgrading the city’s image, as well as make people feel like they are in the middle of an art museum.