Saturday, March 8, 2014
Below are two works made by OX and BR1 in Rome. I've been busy working on Augmented Reality Mobile apps and am quite jealous that my friends are out there collaborating on such fantastic projects.
As an ad takeover artist myself, I can safely say it isn't often that you can watch your work get buried under an advertisement by the company whose space you have taken. This video from BR1 is a wonderful example of just that.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Mobstr is Busy
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Mobstr Displays Unusual Agility in His Public Art Practice
Mobstr just sent over these new images and a video which can be viewed below. Mobstr's work has always delighted me because he often uses billboards as his preferred outdoor canvas. I get a special kick out of seeing work which happens over outdoor advertising regardless of the content. But Mobstr's projects are not all ad takeovers and ultimately his work is not about advertisings monopoly of public space. It seems more about the simple act of using public space to create endless opportunities for communication and engagement. Visual puns like this Apathy piece above, require the viewer to get the punchline in order to be complete, they are participatory. In fact many of Mobstr's projects involve other civic actors that help him turn public space into a bit of theatre, and we delight in its playfulness. The politics of public space usage that lies behind all of the fun in Mobstr's work is there, but bundled in a much more pleasant package. It's agile work that at its heart opens up dialogues about how we should use public space, converses with the current participants, and gives the public front row access to the show. Enjoy!
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Omg Who Stole My Ads? Lavie
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Liberated Ads Confront San Francisco Eviction Crisis
VIA: The CDCHERE]
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Scratch-Off Bus Stop Ads Reveal Hidden Art
To advertise its new archaeology-as-art exhibit, The Way of the Shovel, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago is asking bystanders to excavate their own art. With a coin or even a fingernail, you can scratch out your own design or dig out a piece of the artwork underneath. The museum got permission to create the scratchable ads from JCDecaux, the company that owns the Chicago bus shelters and many, many others worldwide. More [HERE]
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Jon Burgerman - Head Shots
Jon Burgerman is is an illustrator, musician, performer and just generally amazing in his yellow jacket uniform. Head Shots, is a series of photographs he is currently working on that takes advantage of the numerous opportunities to get blasted by outdoor advertising violence. While it's critical of the amount of visual violence we ingest, it's also just hilarious and playful. I can be a bit heavy handed with my own work and seeing such a light and nimble approach to ad criticism is inspiring. See more of Jon's work [HERE] and more Head Shots [HERE]
Sunday, January 26, 2014
New Murals Advertise Products, Despite Passing of Ordinance
Dennis Hathaway just brought a KCET news story to my attention that shows advertising working its way into Los Angeles art murals only months after the mural ordinance went into effect. He writes, "I told a lot of people during the process of passing this new mural ordinance that marketers would try to find a way to use it for commercial purposes, and now I have the highly unsatisfying opportunity to say, "I told you so."
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Happy New Poster From OX
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Unknown Artist Ad Takeover in Philadelphia PA
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Vermibus - Dissolving Europe
It is interesting to see a real sub genre of artists using outdoor advertising venues as their main medium. While these artists do have definitive styles of working, the outdoor ad venue is a vital component in their process. Artists like OX, Posterboy, and Vermibus are defining their practice around the alteration and ultimately their power over commercially based public media systems. I almost cannot believe it and hope that one day you might see even more artists working this way, walk into survey gallery shows, and hear talks about the unique history of this sub genre within the public art discourse. Only time will tell.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Iselin in China and Some Thoughts on Current Work Strategies
I recently returned from a trip to China which took me through, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Macau, and Hangzhou. While in those cities I was able to test keys and gain access to most above ground advertising locations as part of the Public Access project. (I will be updating the PublicAdCampaign site to include the Public Access project as its own independent endeavor in the coming days, and will announce it with a new post) Without knowing whether or not I would be able to open ad locations in these new cities, I decided to pack light and only take a few posters with me. Below you can see the result of Public Access in three cities, Shanghai, Macau, and Hong Kong.
Shanghai, China 2014
As PublicAdCampaign readers are probably well aware, my personal work is kind of all over the place. This isn't an accident, but rather a choice I made a long time ago to not develop a stylistically recognizable set of images. I thought it was the least I could do to deflect criticism that I was simply creating my own ad campaign, a chance to keep the work fresh for the audience, and ultimately would allow me room to treat the project as an experiment rather than a proof. I have enjoyed it so far, creating figurative, abstract, sculptural, and photographic works all for similar locations.
In the past few years I have shied away from the more figurative work that I was doing early on. This happened for a number of reasons but more importantly it makes the Iselin series that is part of this post, an aberration in my current investigations. Iselin, unlike my other work these days, can be mistaken for an ad, fashion most likely, and therefor oddly out of line with a project critical of advertising. While I tend to understand this argument, it does treat the PublicAdCampaign project as an anti advertising project which is short sighted.
My critique, and the reason my pieces never address the specific ads they remove, or comment on advertising in general, is not of the advertising content itself but of the use of public space for commercial imagery. I am under no delusions that I will wake up one day and advertising as medium will have disappeared. I am under the delusion that I might harness control of this medium by mitigating its effects on my consciousness, starting with the cleanup of our shared public spaces.
So its important that my work not speak about advertising directly, so that viewers don't see it as a critique of the message, and it's important that the work is recognizable as an intervention so that viewers are aware of the demand for something better. Iselin fails to do both of these things. Because she looks like she could be an ad, (in fact she is a polaroid outtake from a fashion photo shoot I was on ages ago that I decided to keep, which subsequently wore thin in my wallet over the years) she is not recognizable as an intervention, and because she looks like an ad but isn't, she might be confused with a critique of fashion imagery, albeit a pandering one at that.
So how do I justify my use of Iselin on the street, an image I ultimately feel pretty strongly about and yet feel compelled to critically justify in some way? Currently, I am in the middle of RJ Rushmore's Viral Art, which you can download [HERE]. The book is about how the internet has affected street art and graffiti and it highlighted some interesting ideas about audience that I want to apply to the Iselin series and by doing so justify her failure on the streets and yet allow me a confidence using her in the future.
As you can see [HERE] I originally started putting Iselin up with the caveat that she always go in new locations. This was my way of creating a project which could be ongoing and easily reproduced, and which would push me to use new locations unfamiliar to me. It was also a way for me to justify imagery that was suspect given my stated objectives. Recently that ease of reproduction is what made me carry Iselin throughout China and use her as "proof" of another project I am working on called Public Access. The Public Access project is about figuring out how to offer the tools to anyone who wants them to open bus shelters in every city in the world. When I go to a new city, I figure out the tool and then make hundreds of them. These tools then become a part of a world map which users can navigate to find the right tool for them. It's about democratizing access and sharing my knowledge.
When I crack the code, I like to let people know, and that to me is best done by installing something quickly as proof. These images then get uploaded to Instagram and my website as an archive, hash tagged #yeahwegotkeysforthat. These posts are about letting the world know that a new city has been breached so that they might involve themselves in the project. While technically an ad takeover on the street, the image used is simply a placeholder that proves my access. My first thought isn't to the public seeing the piece on the street so much as the Public Access audience around the world.
In the context of this audience, Iselin doesn't seem so out of place anymore. The Instagram or website audience knows Iselin is an ad takeover and so questions democratic access. They also know she isn't a fashion ad and while we may argue about the detriments of using imagery which reinforces stereotypes, this world audience is in on the joke and can at least engage the image critically. While Iselin fails miserably on the street, she makes much more sense to an internet audience already in the know. The confluence of reading Viral Art and using Iselin in China to mark Public Access cities has thus altered how I would like to treat the Iselin project from now on.
From here on I will only use Iselin's image to mark the fact that I have gained access to a new advertising venue in a new city. With a majority of my audience online these days, I see this as a reasonable justification for my use of an image that I feel strongly about, and yet which contradicts some of its audiences expectations. This in no way means that I am forgoing public works which aim to highlight their resistance to commercial use of public space, but it does signal an understanding that my work on the street has many purposes and many audiences, some of which may seem to contradict each other but which might ultimately stand their ground amidst confusion.
Hong Kong, China 2014
Shanghai, China 2014
Shanghai, China 2014
Macau, China 2014
Thursday, December 19, 2013
New Work by Ludo: "Power Corruption and Lies"
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Who Owns The Streets? Its Not Us
Monday, December 9, 2013
Inhabiting Home: The Public Interventions of Jordan Seiler
A huge thank you to Rhiannon for writing such an articulate article on the Public Access Project for Art Slant Street.
Minimalism integrates itself through Jordan Seiler’s aesthetics, down to his ubiquitous all black wardrobe. When I visited the artist in his studio, rows of keys were neatly lined up with similar precision, alternating his signature color with an overly saturated neon pink. Initially these visuals guided the artist’s work, who adopted an adbusting approach to covering advertisements. More (HERE)
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Getting the Short End of the Stick - Laboring for Corporate Media in Public Space
I took the picture above because I noticed that after many years, an illegal billboard that once occupied this wall had finally been removed. It was, like hundreds of others around the city, operated by a company called NPA outdoor. PublicAdCampaign, along with the help of hundreds of other NYC residents, had challenged the legitimacy of these ads by painting them white and then covering them with public media in a civil disobedience project called NYSAT some years back. This action was only made possible by the fact that we had discovered that NPA was operating their locations illegally, never having obtained the appropriate permitting from the city of NY. Ultimately, this fact misconstrued the projects intentions in a way that I have never fully addressed, but as you can imagine, our actions were seen as anti-illegal advertising. illegal or not, our intentions were to question corporate media's supremacy in our shared public spaces and gain political agency in the process. The fact that these advertisements were illegal only made it easier to convince average individuals to take up arms against them with a sense of entitlement, instead of reservation. Private property boundaries tend to be incredibly effective invisible barriers, but if those boundaries are imposed illegally, barriers become invitations.
In the end, the focus on illegal advertising was disconcerting and we did not repeat this same mistake in the subsequent MaSAT and ToSAT projects. In Toronto we attacked both legal and illegal advertising equally, hoping for better public understanding of our larger grievances against a public media environment monopolized by corporate media. On some level this worked, and the discussion moved from the illegality of the advertising, to what we had replaced the corporate imagery with. To critics, it seemed we were now arguing for the replacement of ads with our artistic endeavors. As it were, those willing to participate in the illegal occupation of private property for a political statement about the current public media landscape, happened to be left wing nuts and artist types. But the point was not lost on us and the final large scale disobedience project in Madrid removed this ambiguity. Participants in Madrid were asked to simply submit text of their choosing. It was this final removal of individual identity that made clear our demands for a reevaluation of who has, and should have access to our shared public media environment.
While the first two SAT projects failed to be clear about what we were all up in arms about, the unintended demands that they suggested were legitimate, if only to a small demographic. In NY people were pissed off that illegal advertising was taking advantage of public space, making money while not playing by the rules. People got upset about it and it would seem by the timeline of city enforcement, that the cities own action against this company was in some part fueled by the injustice we had help reveal. In Toronto, those concerned with public arts programming argued for our re-appropriation as a meaningful request for public arts opportunities in the face of huge corporate media initiatives. This may not have been our intended goal, but citizens rallied around these interpretations. I have for a long time wondered what other injustice gleaned from these types of actions, could reach a larger demographic than illegality or the right to public art, while allowing our criticism to remain about corporate medias dominance of public space more generally.
Since these projects happened several years ago, I have read a lot about media literacy and media education in an attempt to understand my gut feeling that a public media landscape, monopolized by a corporate agenda, is problematic for our public environment and our democracy in general. I recently finished a book called "The Spectacle of Accumulation: essays in culture, media, and politics" which gave me new insights into how we might rally a larger public constituency against public media monopolies. Unbeknownst to me until now, we are all laboring unintentionally for outdoor media companies every time I step onto the city streets. It is this extraction of value from our own visual labor that we can all rally against by demanding compensation from those who benefit from its use.
Overly simply put, media corporations make their money by selling an audience to companies who wish to reach those audiences with goods and services. Cable television, movie production houses, news outlets and all other media providers remain economically viable by increasing their audience size, or by targeting micro audiences, both of which are of value to corporations with products to sell. In the case of TV, it is well accepted that the "cost" of television is the watching of commercials. Corporations buy advertising space which funds the production of programming with the understanding that you will consume those messages and in the process the products associated with them. Cost analysis has made this process quite refined and depending on the audience being offered, and the scope of their purchasing power, corporations are willing to pay very specific amounts of money for your attention. The value of your viewing labor has a very specific price tag.
If we accept this media support model, our next question should be how much does it cost to produce a specific piece of media so that we can determine how much of our attention, or labor must be given to commercials to make that programs production economically sound. It is here that we begin to see our attention, or our labor, beginning to be exploited. Like all capitalist endeavors, the media provider takes more value from your labor than it gives back in programming, or in wages as with other more traditional capitalist ventures. This really isnt anything new to most people, particularly when speaking about television. We know we get the short end of the stick when we are forced to watch 32, 15 second commercials for every 22 minutes of content we get in return. In fact we might pay extra money for cable channels which dont have advertising, preferring to pay for our content instead of to labor for it. However destructive this model might be to a democratic media environment, it is one we have come to accept as a society, for better or worse.
What I find most interesting is that this same model of labor value extraction can be applied to public space where we are less inclined to see the personal benefits of our laboring for media companies that control our visual environment. Take for example, NPA outdoor, the illegally operating billboard company first targeted in the original NYSAT project. This company occupied a large amount of public space and sold that space to advertisers on the auspices that you would labor for them by paying attention to the messages without any compensation in return. Billboards and other non infrastructure related advertising venues operate under the same expectations, their right to exploit your attentions value is determined by their simple ability to pay for real estate within public view. Many other outdoor advertising companies at least attempt to disguise their labor value extraction by providing payphone service, or bus shelters, or other infrastructure related services which benefit the public generally. That said, like all other capitalist endeavors, they too extract far more value from your labor than is needed to keep said infrastructure operational.
As PublicAdCampaign continues to adress issues of public media inequality and the resulting problems that arise for our public life and democracy, it is this extraction of surplus viewing power that we can all take issue with. We might be willing to overlook our excessive donation of labor to the entertainment industry or media venues which are less crucial to our lives, but public space is uniquely important to our democracy and at the same time an inescapable part of our lives. It is not a service being offered but a integral part of our daily existence. To me it is an extension of our homes and a physical representation of our collective identity. To ask that we labor for corporations with very private concerns when traversing this public landscape is very different than asking us to labor for something less integral to our existence. The expectation that we consume advertising in our shared public spaces is tantmount to asking us to watch a commercial before water will come out of the faucet, and that is something I think we can all agree to fight against.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Condo Ads too Much to Bear for Torontonians
Sean Martindale and Martin Reis have graced this blog before with their community based activism projects in Toronto. The most recent being this ad takeover of sorts which reclaims condo ad sandwich boards for public imagery more closely connected to the community and of an entirely uncommercial nature. According to the artists, the sandwich boards advertising luxury condo develoments have over run the city and become an invasive species of thier own. By repurposing them for public communications they are challenging yet another form of commercial invasion into our collective subconscious.
-"Frustrated by obstructive sidewalk condo ads, Toronto artists get creative" - Via Spacing
-"Kidnapped Condo Ads Become Stealthy Art" - Via the Torontoist.
-Martin Reis Flickr set [HERE]
Thursday, November 21, 2013
A Recipe for Better Living
The always wonderful Luna Park sent me this little post on a small ad busting trend in Berlin. It seems the vandals are buffing fast food ads and replacing them with extremely simple, and yet infinitely more healthy food recipes. Fast food ads, through massive repetition, normalize fast food consumption and in doing so alter our eating habits for the worse. These little reminders fight that trend and in the process allow us to imagine a world in which public images of food work in our favor instead of overwhelming us with unhealthy options that we eventually succumb to.HERE]
Monday, November 18, 2013
Official Re+Public 1.0 Launch
Re+Public: Moto Wall Digital Mural from The Heavy Projects on Vimeo.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Public Access (Heavy Edition) in Public Data Explorer Group exhibition at HLP
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Iselin in Brussels 2013
New Ad Campaign Explains Drones to Skeptical American Public
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Peter Fuss: New Work 2013
Monday, November 4, 2013
Guerilla Joe Advertising Finds Another Public Surface
not so new advertising location.
Update: I asked one of the cart owners how much Guerilla Media pays for the right to deck out his ride, and was surprised to hear a full $250.00/month. If I operated one of these carts, that added revenue would be hard to resist, which is why we need full bans on commercial media in public space. The amount the industry is willing to pay for space simply undercuts any attempts at enforcement or restraint. Point being these ads lie in a legal limbo, not adhered to any permanent structure, they fall our of the purview of the DOB sign enforcement unit.
Monday, October 28, 2013
BR1 - Trofeo 2013 Berlin
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
A Space Called Public - Munich
The large-format billboard displays an impressive mountain-collage by Ed Ruscha: On the visually expressive panorama of a snow-covered mountain range, we read the inscription: "Pay nothing until April". Presented in the public space, the work with its combination of text and image is reminiscent of advertising posters in the city. By taking the stance of the neutral observer, Ed Ruscha is fond of using his lettered images to reflect the banality of metropolitan reality and the mass media. The motif for Munich is derived from an extensive series of paintings with which the artist does not wish to define any semantic fields or convey any logical messages. Instead, he provides space for inexplicable association and reflection in order to lend a poetic note to Munich – as well as some confusion.
More on the entire project [HERE]
Monday, October 21, 2013
What the Hell is Going On?
The always informed Dennis Hathaway over at Ban Billboard Blight sent me this image asking if I had seen anything similar pop up in NYC recently because he was at a loss to decipher its meaning. Having no answer I did a quick Google search and found this very informative article that doesn't answer the question but dives further down the rabbit hole than I expected to be lead. Enjoy the mystery [HERE]
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Iselin in DC and NYC Bus Shelters
Washington DC 2013
The last few months I've had some AR projects going that I will be launching next month, as well as some intensive studio work which I hope will be made public very soon. In the meantime I have managed to throw Iselin up in a few cities as I collect information on their outdoor advertising venues. Enjoy!