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This blog is a resource for ad takeover artists and information about contemporary advertising issues in public space. If you have content you would like to share, please send us an email.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How Rude: New Work By Mobstr

New work by Mobstr tells us what we already know, but just can't help. 

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

All Across America, Artists Are Taking Over Billboards

VIA: The NY Times Magazine
“Visual pollution. Sky trash. Litter on a stick. The junk mail of the American highway.” That’s how billboards are described on the website of Scenic America, a group devoted to “preserving and enhancing the visual character” of the country. But while preservationists deride the billboard, artists have long been intrigued by it for its role in American highway culture. (Besides, what artist wouldn’t want a 300-square-foot canvas with a guaranteed audience?)More [HERE]

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Monday, August 18, 2014

ART Everywhere - A Half Baked Attempt to Bring Culture to Our Cities

Art Everywhere is a collaboration between the OOH industry and 5 major American museums. The contributors should tell you a lot about who plans to benefit from the initiative. Thier stated goal is to bring art to the people across multiple advertising formats throughout the month of August, but thier true intentions are to entrench the current system of public image consumption and outdoor advertisings control of our shared visual environment. It seems like a campaign of this nature crops up every year or two to rave reviews and public applause as the altruism of a benevolent industry showers us with its good graces and culture to boot.

PBS, NPR and a few other news outlets have weighed in on the topic and some critics are underwhelmed, and rightly so. The museums involved speak of increasing attendance, which is already at record highs, while bringing culture to an audience that might not otherwise enjoy such masterful works. While this might be a good idea in practice, the art presented doesn't carry the weight of a true artistic endeavor but references an artwork that is probably worth going to see in real life. while I would agree that the art images are better than the advertising, what we pay for this glimpse into what could be is far more than the benefits of a few less ads.

What I find interesting about campaigns like this is that they openly admit to the fact that our current system of public space image consumption is wildly skewed towards commercial messaging and we are in desperate need of a little culture on our streets. What campaigns like this don't speak about, and in fact attempt to distracts us from, is that the reason we have so little culture on our streets is that the OOH industry likes it that way. They have for all intents and purposes bought up our public visual landscape and are using our visual attention to reap huge profits from those corporations willing to pay for that attention. Any fundamental change to this system would get in the way of a very lucrative business model and therefore it is worth it to spend a little money printing up Degas in an effort to quell any of our objections.

As a public it is our responsibility to realize this type of altruism is a distraction meant to turn our attentions away from the fact that our public walls are not in fact public but commercially operated ad venues. A truly democratic visual public environment would have no need for an Art Everywhere program as the citizens of our cities would litter our streets with the culture of our cities bringing a lot more than oil paintings to our mass transit systems but rather real dialogue and issues of local concern.

on a side note, many Art Everywhere ads have an Augmented Reality component run by a company called BlipAR. this cloud based recognition system scans the "artwork" which can take up to a minute. Once it recognizes the work it puts a cheesy frame around the work and an audio guide tells you a little about the piece. My obvious interest in AR had me testing these all over the city and I can't wait to launch NO AD and show this big company how to truly do Augmented Reality in NYC.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

PUBLICation from FORM in Perth, WA

PUBLIC was an wonderful arts and mural festival in Perth, WA that I took part in a few months ago. It brought together local and international artists to not only paint murals, but create programming and outreach that asked the public to contribute to a dialogue about how our cities are curated. Looking to make the festival a yearly event, Form created PUBLICation to speak to some of the issues address by the project, and gain some unique insight into the artists and thier processes. I was happy to contribute my thoughts about public space more generally and why a vibrant city street is key to a democratically oriented society. Read the digital version [HERE]

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Abner Preis in a NYC Bus Shelter - 2014

I recently had the privilege of hanging out with Abner Preis for a few days and we managed a moment to get out and put up a shelter piece using one of his burn portraits. I love the scale of the image and the obvious hand worked quality of the original. Abner doesn't do "street" work in the same way most other artists featured on this site do, so I was happy to see his reaction to his work in this unexpected location. See more of Abner's work [HERE]

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ankles Phonebooth Takeover Video

Ankles just put a short video up on his site that features some phone booth advertising takeover work in Adelaide Australia. The video is interspersed with his other graffiti work almost as B-roll, and I like how it shows the crossover between types of public space work being practiced today. Enjoy more of Ankles work [HERE]

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Monday, July 28, 2014

BR1 Using Public Access Tools in Far Off Lands

BR1 just sent me these images from Torino Italy. We had a a chance to catch up while he was in NY and I made sure he left with a few keys to use on his travels. Looks like they have begun to come in handy and I am excited to see more ad takeovers resulting from the Public Access key production.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

"It's about the aesthetics to the production of emotions without the need for explanations": OX in Paris

VIA: ARTE

"These billboards are like open windows, like oversized paintings that are hung in the city," says OX. For our latest episode, we have observed the French artist in his work in Paris. More [Here]

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Highline Hit By Poster Boy - WTF Is Street Art Anyways?

PosterBoy hit the Highline Park Fast billboard a little over a week ago and it looks like he has finally uploaded a video to his Flikr page. Check out that and more of his amazing work [HERE]

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Artist Talk with +Art at Judson Memorial Church July 17th

I was asked to give a short artist talk on my work as artist/activist, this upcoming Thursday July 17th. If you are in NYC, stop by the Judson Memorial church and say hello. There are several wonderfully interesting speakers and +Art's non-profit goals of engaging serious social issues through artistic interventions is a worthwhile cause to support.

Check the Facebook page [HERE]
Also a link to the speaker information on More Art's webpage: [HERE]

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Spending Time With Friends - 3 New Works

I had the wonderful opportunity to go out with a few friends the on tuesday and below are the results. I couldn't be happier to see public infrastructure being used in such a public way. Now where the poets at? 
 BR1

 Spectre

Jordan Seiler

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Strange Bedfellows - Art and Advertising in Dresden

The city of Dresden, along with Stroer outdoor advertising, is holding an open submission for artwork to be placed on 50 billboards around the city. It sounds like a good idea to bring more art to the streets and in the process eliminate a lot of advertising, if only briefly. The only problem is this initiative is promoted by an outdoor advertising company not in the business of making art happen, but rather money. Something must be amiss if they are offering free space. 
It seems that with the rise in popularity of street art and now this sub genre, developers and business interests are seeing a symbiotic relationship as opposed to an adversarial one. Instead of buffing graffiti and street art before plopping a bunch of condos down in an up and coming neighborhood, developers invite those same artists to "decorate" the area and give it the bohemian sheen they need to attract deep pocketed buyers. Once those condos are sold, the artists find that thier work is no longer needed and thier actions are again subject to the full extent of the law. Likewise with the anti advertising sub genre, billboard companies are inviting artists to use thier infrastructure in what I see as an effort to revitalize thier dying medium and bring new eyes to what most of us try to avoid like the plague. 
Like the old saying goes, "If you can't beat em, offer them professional exposure and watch as they abandon all of thier moral codes."
More [HERE]

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Woman 'Shocked & Menaced' By Dexter Subway Ad Sues MTA & Showtime

VIA: Gothamist
The much-maligned series finale of Dexter was shocking to fans due to the fact that it was a terrible, no good, god-awful way to end the show. But it literally shocked at least one New Yorker, who was so traumatized by the subway advertisements for the final season, she broke her ankle. More [HERE]

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Westward Exhibition: Billboard Art Unfolds Across America

The following article comes to you from the great internet art resource Hyperallergic.
A few months ago, five national museums and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America announced Art Everywhere, a massive exhibition that will bring reproductions of artworks to advertising spaces around the country in August, decided via a public vote. This morning the artwork with the most votes was announced: Edward Hopper’s famous diner scene, “The Nighthawks” (1942). Not the most surprising choice. Give the people what they want. The people want what they know. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Now That's a Bus Advertisement

The Stage, illegally parked and blasting the neighborhood with its crazy digital madness.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

A Critique of Our Intentions Worth Taking Seriously

Kyle Magee runs a site called Global Liberal Media Please, that basically chronicles his very serious protest against outdoor advertising and its role in the corporate takeover of what should be a global media democracy, but is instead privately funded entertainment in service of global capitalism. He gets arrested, and pleads his case as a serious public protest against a failing media system that is encouraging the devastation of our planet and the subjugation of our masses. He does this through the court system and finds himself in jail, locked up for expressing his very dire concerns about how our shared public environment is being misused. His incarceration largely for the temporary and very reversible damage to a few outdoor advertising structures owned by large multinational companies. It is kind of a travesty and to someone like me a constant reminder that at the heart of what I call an art project is a very serious issue whose resolution would have widespread benefits for everyone. 
Kyle wrote a criticism of the Brandalism project, of which I was a part, not as an art critique but as a political critique encouraging a dialogue. He can be rough around the edges if you have thin skin but every word he has written rings true to me. I hope his concerns are taken seriously as his actions have proved him to be a figure who stands up for what he does and believes. 
VIA: GLMP
it is encouraging that so many people (including artists) are becoming increasingly aware that the domination of public space by for-profit advertising is a serious problem, one that can and should be protested against.

brandalism isn’t the only organised bunch of naughty street artists who are willing to clean up for-profit ads in public space even though the stupid law says no — there’s also, to mention just a couple, the public ad campaign in new york and the empty project of madrid — and there is also quite a few street artists (many of whom involved in brandalism) going out on their own to replace for-profit ads with the real expressions of actual human beings who, presumably, do not wish to cause you any psychological/physical harm that happens to be profitable. More [HERE]

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

PUBLIC ACCESS - key archive and tool production

PublicAccess - Perth, Western Australia

A few years ago I was in Norway for NuArt. The festival brought me to Stavanger to cause a scene in downtown by removing every bus shelter advertisement and replacing it with artwork illegally. For a state sponsored arts festival that puts a huge part of its budgets behind large scale mural productions in a small oil rich town, I was happily surprised by my invitation and how progressive they showed themselves to be with that choice. There was one problem, I had no idea how to break into the ad infrastructure in Norway. Luckily for me volunteers were able to send me photos, take measurements, and generally help me figure out what I needed to make before I got on a plane.

I left for Norway equipped with a new tool I assumed would give me access to every shelter I would need access to, in order to blanket downtown. Upon arrival in Stavanger it became immediately clear that what we thought was the key, was in fact an aberration. I now know that many cities have several different keys that open infrastructure installed at different times. New models of bus shelters can have wildly different opening methods and Stavanger was no different. The more ubiquitous tool, and the one that would allow me to blanket downtown, was not in my possession and I had to figure it out fast.

After gathering some random hardware supplies, I was able to hand craft a tool that provided me access to the rest of Stavanger's infrastructure. I became excited by my resourcefulness and ease with which these keys could be made, even on the fly. Traveling over the next few months, I began to notice that this new key I had crafted in Stavanger was in fact quite universal, giving me access to advertising infrastructure all over Europe. In fact, with outdoor advertising run by a few large multinational corporations, a key that worked in Hong Kong, might also work in Tel Aviv and the idea for PublicAccess was born.

For the past two years I have been using my travels as an opportunity to build an archive of keys that open advertising infrastructure all around the world. The photos below are a selection of cities which I have gained access to, the list growing as I move around or work with artists from cities I have never been. The idea at this point is to make this archive available to anyone who wants it. I have in fact been giving these keys away slowly to personal requests. Over the next few months I will be creating a dedicated website for this project. The website will include a world map with accessible locations, a way to purchase the keys for a small donation, as well as 3d printable files and instructions. My hope is to make advertising takeover work easier for those who might want to get involved but don't know where to begin. As the keys are used and documentation of thier use is gathered in one place, I see this projects final stage being the exhibition of photographic documentation of work made using the archive that I have created. More info to follow as the website is finalized and this project goes fully live.

  PublicAccess - Brussels, Belgium
  PublicAccess - Hong Kong, China
  PublicAccess - Los Angeles, California
  PublicAccess - San Francisco, California
  PublicAccess - New York, New York
 PublicAccess - Shanghai, China 
 PublicAccess - Washington, DC
 PublicAccess - Saint Louis, Missouri
 PublicAccess - Oakland, California

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Re+Public in Austin, TX and Perth, WA

Over a month ago we returned from a bit of travel and are only now getting around to posting about it. Apologies for the delayed report but better late than never.

Re+Public digital interactive mural for PUBLIC festival - Perth, WA
Many PublicAdCampaign readers are familiar with a secondary project we are working on called Re+Public. Its a collaboration 3 years in the making with our friends over at The Heavy Projects. You can visit our website [HERE] but long story short it is an investigation into Augmented Reality as a tool for public space media creation, and curation.

At a point in the not too distant future, many of us will be wearing smart glasses and other forms of heads up displays. These wearable smart phones will allow a level of digital overlay onto our daily lives that will have drastic effects on the way we experience public space. While there are arguments for and against this technology, heads up displays will be ubiquitous wether you like it or not. The upside, and reason for our initial interest in AR, is that you may one day be able to digitally opt out of outdoor advertising signage by simply running a digital ad blocking app.

With this core interest in mind, we began exploring AR's capabilities several years ago by helping other artists create digital interactive components to thier physical 2d murals. This was a way for us to familiarize ourselves with the unique capabilities of AR, its ability to integrate into the 3d environment, use interactivity and data collection to engage the user, turn static imagery into time based narrative media, and leap into the past through historical digital overlays.

Recently we were asked to take those skills and apply them to two murals of our own design in Austin Texas, and Perth, Western Australia. While these explorations do not constitute anti-advertising work, nor do they challenge ideas about who has access to our shared media environment, they are part of a process of investigation which will bring this technology to bear on those core PublicAdCampaign interests. We hope to bring you news of new AR anti-advertising initiatives soon. Until then enjoy the pretty pictures. We had a blast!


The PUBLIC festival in Perth was run by Form and it looks like it will be an ongoing yearly event considering the fantastic response from local residents. Form essentially invited 50 Australian and international street artists and muralists, to paint downtown Perth over the course of 2 weeks. Satellite projects in the Pilabra, with inner city youth, as well as parties and gallery exhibitions rounded out a packed program that got the city talking about art and culture's role in developing a healthy vibrant city of the future. It was exciting to see new digital media creeping into what would normally be more traditional mural arts programming. We can't thank Form enough for having the vision and gumption to invite the Re+Public team.

 Re+Public digital interactive mural for PUBLIC festival - Perth, WA
 Re+Public digital interactive bus shelter for PUBLIC festival - Perth, WA
 Re+Public digital interactive bus shelter for PUBLIC festival - Perth, WA
Re+Public digital interactive mural for PUBLIC festival - Perth, WA
This year we were also invited to SXSW interactive to do a enormous wheat pasted mural measuring 84'x34'. This was our first real foray into mural making at this scale and we were excited that we got the thing on the wall, let alone that the locals seemed to like it. A big thanks to the IEEE, and Qualcomm for helping to offset the cost of this murals production. 
Re+Public digital interactive mural for SXSW Interactive - Austin, TX
Expect a new Re+Public mural in NYC come mid September. Until then we will keep you posted about less frivolous endeavors with Augmented Reality as soon as we can. 

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

If We Are Confessing Our Sins, I Stole This Image

I was reading through my favorite magazine, Cabinet, when I stumbled across the above image of a nun. I don't know what prompted me to do so, but I pulled out my phone, snapped a blurry picture and it ended up getting printed. I leave it to you on this Sunday afternoon to determine what the extent of my sins are.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

UC Berkely Class Talk and San Francisco/Oakland Bus Shelter Access

Me and the UC Berkeley students in front of a takeover in Oakland, CA. 2014
At the end of April I was in Oakland visiting a group of students at UC Berkeley California. The students were wrapping up a seminar class on the philosophy of street art taught by an old high school friend of mine, Seth Yalcin. I haven't spoke to Seth since high school and he found my work when he was forced to watch This Space Available on a leg of his flight home. The documentary was a larger investigation of outdoor advertising's role in public space and the various actors that fall on every side of the debate. I guess his interest was peaked and shortly thereafter he got in touch about putting together a syllabus. 
Students seemed to come from a few different disciplines, including urban planning and development, which I was happy to see. We spoke for about an hour in class and then went out to the streets for a quick little action. I absolutely love teaching and working with students of all ages. The energy and enthusiasm, in most students, is infectious. 
Market Street, San Francisco 2014
While I was in Oakland I made sure to get out in San Francisco to test some of the infrastructure there and see what was accessible. There are a plethora of bus shelter and free standing advertising frames littered throughout the city operated by Clear Channel. It didn't take long before two trips to the hardware store had fashioned the elusive 5 sided tamper proof bit that is required to open most of these structures. 
Hand crafted tool for San Francisco Clear Channel advertising
Mission Street public restroom 2014
While in San Francisco, I noticed that JCDecaux operates the public restrooms sporadically strewn around Bart Station entrances. I carry all of my keys with me on my travels so I quickly replaced this advertisement to show that I could. Slowly an archive of keys is building which will be put online in the coming months as the PublicAccess project.
Mission Street public restroom 2014
Mission Street public restroom 2014

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How Pay-Per-Gaze Advertising Could Work With Google Glass

I have a friend who studied seccadic eye movement at CUNY and now works for the NIH doing research mapping visual attention and the brain. A while back we were talking about a familiar response from media savvy citizens to the simple question, "How do you feel about outdoor advertising?" Many of them answer that they simply don't look at advertising, suggesting that the question is irrelevant or has no bearing on them, presumably because they know not to look at ads and can exercise that choice at will. 
Quit simply, your eye is looking at a lot more than you are aware or conscious of but that is processed and used to make complex decisions. While citizens may feel like they arent looking at ads, chances are they are processing a great deal of messages, if not simply the larger consumption message that is imposed by the plethora of outdoor media. We thought it would be a good idea to fashion a portable version of the eye tracking software and hardware used in his lab in order to prove that despite your best efforts, you're still paying attention. 
I looks like Google beat us to the punch. 

Google wants to see what you see. And then, of course, make money from those images.
The company was recently awarded a patent that puts forth an idea for pay-per-gaze advertising — a way in which people interacting with ads in the real world could be analyzed in the digital world. More [HERE]

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Recent LA Bus Shelter Takeovers and Panel Discussion

LA Bus Shelter Takeover 2014
Over a month ago I spoke to a group of urban planners, outdoor advertising executives, and concerned Los Angeles residents at a Westside Urban Forum panel titled, "Art and Billboards: What do we want the City of Los Angeles to look like?" I was invited to this discussion by Dennis Hathaway of Ban Billboard Blight, who has become a friend and colleague that I have kept in touch with over the years. It was an opportunity to espouse some of my more "radical" views on how public space should be used, to a group of people who might not normally think about the issue the way I do. This meant going beyond the typical arguments of legality, zoning, and blight that are normally associated with the outdoor advertising debate, to the more pressing question of how is all of this commercial signage effecting our social psyche. 
Inevitably the fact that there could be a fundamental problem with using public space for commercial signage was lost on part of the crowd. People within the outdoor advertising industry obviously have a hard time listening to a model of public space that would eradicate the very business that they work for. That said the audience in general was receptive to the idea that there may be a problem with surrounding ourselves with a repetitive demand to consume at an ever increasing pace, and that public space and the health of our cities might be fundamentally at odds with the type of behavior that outdoor advertising promotes. 
It was an interesting discussion and one I was happy to see the citizens of Los Angeles engaging head on. If only we did this more often and the issue did not seem to be a demand of the "educated media literate class" but rather the concern of every city inhabitant with an interest in retaining a modicum of self determination.
LA Bus Shelter Takeover 2014

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Random Projects in Perth, WA

LENT/TIME Perth 2014

I was recently in Perth, Western Australia for the PUBLIC festival put on by FORM. I was asked to come as part of Re+Public, a side project to PublicAdCampaign exploring our digital commons. I can't go to another country to do a digital mural and not get my hands dirty making new keys, and work, in bus shelters. Big thanks to Kid Zoom and Stormie Mills for being amazing artists and friends while I was in town.
For this quick takeover I spelled out the words LENT TIME using 4 double sided bus shelters, on the busy St Georges Terrace. The lettering was intentionally abstract with the hopes that the images stood out as random designs, before being understood together as a word. In one direction the viewer read LENT and the other TIME, a comment on the short duration that the work would likely be up.

LENT/TIME Perth 2014
LENT/TIME Perth 2014
LENT/TIME Perth 2014
LENT/TIME Perth 2014
LENT/TIME Perth 2014
LENT/TIME Perth 2014
LENT/TIME Perth 2014
LENT/TIME Perth 2014
LENT/TIME Perth 2014

I then did a quick run of phonebooths along the same large street. Each phonebooth had its advertisement removed and was then photographed. This photograph was then installed several days later at the same location much like the Echo project. It was in fact Kid Zoom who coined the name Echo project and so I found it fitting to do something similar in his home town.
Echo #1 - Perth 2014
Echo #2 - Perth 2014
Echo #3 - Perth 2014

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      Naomi Klein
      No Logo


      Kalle Lasn
      Culture Jam


      Stuart Ewen
      Captains of Consciousness


      Stuart Ewen
      All Consuming Images


      Stuart & Elizabeth Ewen
      Channels of Desire


      Jeff Ferrell
      Crimes of Style


      Jeff Ferrell
      Tearing Down the Streets


      John Berger
      Ways of Seeing


      Joe Austin
      Taking the Train


      Rosalyn Deutsche
      Evictions art + spatial politics


      Jane Jacobs
      Death+Life of American Cities