<body> Public Ad Campaign
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.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A MARKETING CAMPAIGN AGAINST ADVERTISING

Below is a wonderful essay by RJ Rushmore for Monument Lab. Im not sure how much RJ is aware of the writing of Jeff Ferrell but his sentiments echo a lot of Jeff's criminological research. Pigeon holed by the anti advertising title, most anti advertising activists are actually trying to imagine what might replace the commercial images that surround us if given the chance. RJ is well aware of this and like a lot of us, trying to figure out how to recontextualize what he is doing so that it broadens his demands and has more potential to change not only our streets, but fundamental ways in which we interact and exist with one another. Fantastic.

VIA: Monument Lab
Skateboarders refuse to see the city as intended. It is a playground. It is theirs. Every curb, bench, and set of stairs is a potential skateable object. Even though I put down my own skateboard around age 15, that mindset stayed with me. Skateboarding gave me a gift: the inclination to resist the pressures that cities feed us to be passive. As I've spent the last decade alongside artists who intervene in public spaces (be that through street art, graffiti, public art, or street performance), that inclination has matured, evolved, and became the driving force behind my work as a writer and curator. More [HERE]

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Rushing to Top Up Your SEPTA Key? You’ll Have to Watch This Ad First

It’s a rare thing, these days, to find a true example of what marketers call a captive audience. It used to be the case that an advertiser could slap an image along the inside of a subway car, and your options were essentially twofold: Distract yourself with a book or magazine, or give the ad a read (or three). It’s not like you had anything better to do as the train rumbled along. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Payphone-Replacing LinkNYC Kiosks Not Generating Projected Revenue

Intersection seems to be loosing money on their LINK NYC project by failing to meet projected ad revenue targets and essentially having to pay the city to operate a public infrastructure. This yearly loss doesn't even account the initial installation cost of development and hardware. It would seem like this business deal was a bad idea. And yet, Intersection continues to rapidly expand into other markets like London, Newark, and Philadelphia. What this article fails to mention is LINK NYC was never about the ad revenue but rather the data collection and Google's long term interest in harvesting the digital exhaust produced by cities. New York and most other cities aren't foolish enough to go all Quayside and render Google ground up control, so Intersection is going at it piecemeal. If the LINK NYC towers loose a few million on advertising, that is a small price to pay for the access to NYC's streets and the behavioral data that can be collected at scale with such a massive public infrastructure deployment. And dont think that traditional advertising is the only revenue source. The sale and use of behavioral data is incredibly lucrative and probably the main source of projected income as traditional forms of consumer manipulation give way to softer forms of quiet influence that leave us wanting without a clue where the wanting came from.

During a February 2016 press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio made the first phone call on New York City’s first LinkNYC kiosk, stationed at the corner of 16th Street and 3rd Avenue. “It will be the biggest and fastest network in the world, and completely free of charge. And one thing I know about my fellow New Yorkers, they like things that are free of charge," said de Blasio. More [HERE]

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

New York Bans Alcohol Ads on Most City Property

Advertising through repetition makes more likely that you will do something. It is an exercise of soft power that tips the scale one way in favor of those doing the advertising. Like the house at a casino. They don't win all the time, but the odds are in their favor. Advertising doesn't make you do something, but it makes it more likely. Considering alcohol has it's own addictive pull, we probably shouldn't give it any more advantages.

Eighteen months after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority banned alcohol advertisements on New York City buses, in subway cars and in stations, the City of New York has followed suit, instituting its own ban on most city-owned properties. More [HERE]

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Monday, April 29, 2019

The War on Messaging: Advertising and the Fight for Your Attention

Very Excited to be on a panel with my colleagues and good friends RJ Rushmore and Katherine Lorimer, Moderated by Josh McPhee on May 2nd at 7pm. We will talk briefly about our individual projects and relationship to the ad takeover world and then open it up to Josh and the audience to delve deeper into the efficacy and motivations of ad takeover work. Please come out and support our work and the Moniker fair which has been kind enough to host us. 

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Sunday, April 28, 2019

VIA: Places Journal, Sam Bloch
As the sun rises in Los Angeles, a handful of passengers wait for a downtown bus in front of Tony’s Barber Shop, on an exposed stretch of Figueroa Street near the Pasadena Freeway. Like Matryoshka dolls, they stand one behind another, still and quiet, in the shadow cast by the person at the head of the line. It’s going to be another 80-degree day, and riders across the city are lining up behind street signs and telephone poles. More [HERE]

Neo Nazi Ad Takeover's in Berlin

Friends made me aware of the fact that an Identitarian group in Berlin had hijacked some ad space for thier refugees go home messages. It obviously upset a lot of people and an interesting Reddit conversation started [HERE]

While I in no way agree with the hate filled rhetoric and behavior surrounding protectionist solutions to economic and social unrest, not to mention the outright racism at the heart of most of these beliefs, I do see a place for the messages in public space (if only briefly). For me the public environment is an opportunity for expression and that does not come with censorship of certain ideas and individuals. It is a democratic space in which all can be heard and all can react to the ideas each of us put forward. No one group should dominate the civic media environment.

That said, I would expect these messages to be removed immediately by citizens who saw thier hate speech for what it is. I think that by negotiating our shared public spaces together we learn about eachother, react to one another, and then learn again. In the end, what gets left on our walls is who we truly are and so the negotiation is as important as the content.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Subvertisers for London

Our good friends at Dog Section Press just released a short documentary on the radical subvertising that has been happening in London for the past few years. It is a fantastic look at some of the politics and actions of a unique group of activists trying to change the conversation on how we co-curate our shared public spaces. Give it a watch and let us know what you think. 
Watch Film [HERE]

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Vi kan bedre (We can do better)

Our friends in Norway are launching a Subvertising campaign to coincide with their national Holiday. There is an open call for submissions and I highly suggest you try to support them if you can. If you are paying attention to the work of advertising, you will notice the growing list of groups and projects aimed at tackling the commercial abuse of our shared public spaces and the lack of civic dialogue afforded to those spaces because of the monopoly commercial media has on them. It is wonderful to see one more group added to the list and I look forward to seeing their project in action. 
Vi kan bedre (We can do better)
250 artworks - 5 cities - 1 day
Summary
Vi kan bedre (We can do better) is a nationwide day of action that will see 250 adverts replaced with art in five major cities across Norway on May 17th.

What?
A utopian art project that aims to stimulate conversation about what ´we can do better´ to uphold the values celebrated on Norway´s National Day.
The coordinated day of action follows the time-honored traditions of ´subvertising ´ (subverting advertising), ad-hacking, culture jamming and more as a means of reclaiming the city as a co-created space. 
We believe the time has come to celebrate the values we share as Norwegians while revealing the self-interested forces undermining them and are calling upon all proud Norwegian's to practice what they preach by supporting this campaign.

Why?
We believe that the visual realm in public space belongs to everyone, not just the businesses and organisations that can afford to rent our attention. We believe that public space should be a forum for dialogue, debate and the exchange of ideas, not least on May 17th. 
Inequality, pollution, climate change, mass extinction; all these problems are caused by the processes of consumer capitalism, which is fuelled by advertising. 
Whether it's the recently approved copper mine in Kvalsund in the Arctic Circle; the dumping of mine waste in Repparfjord on the coast of the Barents Sea; or the overall increase in oil and gas production - set to hit a new peak level in 2023 - the changes we are witnessing to both the natural environment and civil society concern us all.

When?
Advertisers calculate the value of a campaign based on the number of people (or eyeballs) that see it. As such, there´s no more valuable day for outdoor advertising than 17th May, when whole cities and communities take to the streets for a day of parades and celebrations to mark Norway's independence.
How?
Artists, activists, designers, illustrators, photographers, writers, poets from all backgrounds are invited to submit their artwork through an online submission process administrated via our dedicated website: www.vikanbedre.com
             
Our crowdfunding campaign aims to raise 35,249kr to cover the cost of professionally printing and distributing 250 large-format prints to 5 Norwegian cities where they will be installed by our teams prior to May 17th. 
Pictures of the installed artworks will be uploaded to social media using the hashtag #vikanbedre as well as circulated to all of our backers via email.
Each artwork will also be made available for download, for free, after the action on May 17th via our dedicated website: www.vikanbedre.com 
Who?
Vi kan bedre (We can do better)is a not-for-profit platform created by a dedicated group of volunteers made up of artists, activists and environmentalists who love the country of Norway and what it represents.

Contact
For more information, please visit: www.vikanbedre.com

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Ads in Wonderland

Matthieu Lietaert sent me this link to his most recent documentary on advertising persuasion in the modern age. Please take an hour to watch and support this much needed critical thinking. 
Have you ever wanted to discover the behind the scenes of marketing persuasion? To know what technologies and scientific methods are used to unveil your consumer black box? ADS IN WONDERLAND gives the floor to those who create advertising: CEOs of advertising agencies, neurosciences experts, industrial psychologists, and data engineers. It also let whistleblowers and activists highlight the dangers of this revolution for our planet and for democracy. After ADS IN WONDERLAND, you won’t see your daily ads the same way you used to do… Watch Movie [HERE]

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

How Much Longer Is That Floating Billboard Going to Ruin My View?

The audacity of one man deciding what should and shouldn't bother people so he can continue to profit off of thier grievance is remarkable... and then entirely not when you consider the business model of distracting the public for private profit. 

Months after a Florida-based company began sailing digital advertisements on the Hudson and East Rivers, the city has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop them. More [HERE]

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Waiting for a Bus? Time to Enjoy a Taste of Art

While I obviously have an issue with PAF and JCD as the curators of our civic media environment, I am very happy with curator Katerina Stathopoulou's choice for this project. Public space should be used by, and be representative of, the citizens who live in our cities. Elle Perez's work will no doubt bring us a deeply personal group of portraits that reflect our city back at us in all its beauty and nuance.

VIA: The New York Times
This summer, 100 city bus shelters will be transformed into platforms for an exhibition of work by a New York-based photographer, Elle Pérez. More [HERE]

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Monday, March 25, 2019

City Councilmembers Propose $100,000 Fine For 'Hideous' LED Billboard Boats

VIA: Gothamist
The allegedly illegal, unquestionably irritating LED billboard seen floating through NYC's waterways in recent months could soon incur a much steeper fine from the city — assuming, that is, authorities ever get around to enforcing the law the advertising company is believed to be violating. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Meet the Flintstone House, a Home So Odd It Was Declared a ‘Public Nuisance’

This article isn't about advertising but I was struck by one of the last paragraphs and how similar in sentiment it is to my thinking about outdoor advertising in most cities. 

“The panel cannot support a project that proceeds on a ‘build first, ask for permission later’ basis,” the order said. Ms. Fang’s improvements, the panel added, were “designed to be very intrusive, resulting in the owner’s ‘vision’ for her property being imposed on many other properties and views, without regard to the desires of other residents.”

In this San Francisco Bay town, rich homeowners cry foul over the fact that a visual intrusion has sullied thier airspace, contributing to thier discomfort in thier living environment. This house, despite what you may think of it, does not demand anything more than a billboard would and yet we allow private landlords in cities to sully our shared public spaces without hesitation. 

VIA: NY Times
A small town in the San Francisco Bay Area is apparently unamused by improvements that one of its high-profile residents has made to a distinctive property known as the Flintstone House. More [HERE]

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Monday, March 18, 2019

THESE DIGITAL BILLBOARDS ARE DESIGNED TO COMBAT COMMUTERS' ANXIETY

VIA: Ad Age
There's more awareness than ever these days of stress and mental anxiety--but could outdoor media help to fight it? More [Here]

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Street Art Used To Be the Voice of the People. Now It’s the Voice of Advertisers.

We know this story but Christine wrote a nice addition to the growing number of articles on the topic.

VIA: In These Times
Los Angeles, a city once known as the mural capital of the world, issued a citywide mural moratorium in 2002 to crack down on the growing issue of outdoor advertising passing as street art. The ban remained in place until a 2013 ordinance overturned it and set down strict new rules prohibiting commercial messages in street murals. More [HERE]

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Friday, March 8, 2019

Urban Subversion and the Creative City


I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of Oli Mould's Urban Subversion and the Creative City. His explanation of The Creative City Paradigm was thorough and accessible. I learned more about how the neoliberal policies of disinvestment laid the ground work for the global competition between cites that has been at the heart of Creative City strategies and other forms of urban regeneration which privilege developers and investment over the citizens of our great metropolises. He clearly explains how culture and ultimately creativity were used to attract tourism dollars, private investment, and other forms of support that kept many cities viable as states left them for dead with austerity measures that were simply untenable. As culture grew to represent a valuable commodity amongst competing cities, new forms of urban regeneration strategies were pitched around the Creative City concept most famously championed by Richard Florida. These strategies, disguised as calls for more creativity and creative approaches to city building, provided a framework for capitalist accumulation through the development of economically depressed neighborhoods whose "regeneration" could yield huge profits as investors bought low and sold high, often with huge incentives from competing cities who had neglected these neighborhoods in the first place. It is a pretty bleak view of city development that highly favors the capitalist over the citizen, always under pressure to carve out thier own existence in a system designed to extract as much value from them as possible with the expectation that your individual tenacity will replace the ever decreasing opportunity and safety net that we once held up as a bulwark against total domination by economic precariousness.

But then again we all know this. In a society that is erected on the concept of individual competition over mutual aide, getting fleeced by your neighbor is expected behavior and those that have the capital to amplify thier con job do well. In New York we have resorted to insane tax breaks to incentivize developers to create affordable housing. Makes perfect sense. If the objective of a developer is to make money, there is no incentive to build affordable housing that makes less money than luxury housing. That's individual competition at work. If the objective is to get as many people into homes as possible so they can have stability and all of the productive benefits that go with it, then that is mutual aid. They are kind of mutually exclusive and all the incentives in the world wont change the fact that we privilege profit over people as an underlying theme to our social order. Plain and simple.

As a prescription, the second half of Oli Mould's book asks us to consider a creative city with a lower case c. One that defies the market processes of neoliberal ideologies and remakes cities for people instead of profit. It all sounds fantastic except like most other theses on the topic, the prescriptions are tactics like Derive and flanuerism, yarn bombing, and parkour, which stand as legitimate contestation to a mode of thinking that is extracting huge surplus value from our cities and communities on a daily basis. These lines of flight, it is presumed can be followed long enough that they lead us to different cities in which the neoliberal agenda is usurped by new forms of social relations based on truly creative endeavors that exist outside of capitalist imperatives. Desire production, endeavors to produce novel ideas and concepts that happen without a monetary incentive. My own anti advertising efforts are no more effective than any of the examples Oli gives, and they seem mostly to "keep the water moving" so things don't ice over and become impenetrable. It is depressing that in the face of such overwhelming forces of wealth monopolization and social inequality, our remedies (mine included) are art projects and the fanciful dreams of psychogeographers. Im not smart enough yet to see better answers but with problems as big as Oli Mould is showing us, we need better options for resistance if we are going to win the fight for better cities that serve citizens over profit and see the generation of wealth created in our great metropolises as the product of everyone that lives there.

Now don't get me wrong, read this book. I am particularly ornery as of late because I too am faced with a monumental problem that doesn't seem to have an answer. Mainly, how is my work contributing to the greater good and if it is, does the minimal effect it has warrant my time and energy. The problems Oli points out are real, but also part of a much larger system of domination that prevents the distribution of value created by humanity to the entirety of the the human population but instead offers up arguments for why some innovators should horde the majority of that value for themselves. As I looked for cracks of resistance, I saw autonomous thought as a good battleground to wage a fight. Advertising and the persuasion machine it represents not only negatively influences our behavior and increases our desire for individual competition over mutual aide, but it also drowns out any other ideas that might occupy our minds which run counter individual interest over collective interest. If we could just get control of the reigns and create more democratic civic media environments where inequality could be laid bare instead of disguised, we might have a chance. And yet that terra firma is now turning to mush under my feat. What once looked like a a clear and present danger to be confronted headlong has been usurped the behavioral modification techniques of surveillance capitalism, opaque beyond our wildest dreams because its form is too vague to outline as of yet. Unless that is Shoshana Zuboff's new publication can begin to define the edges, and the new frontier on which we can resist.

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

A Mess on the Sidewalk

When traditional outdoor ads were replaced with screens I bemoaned the upgrade as a more insidious distraction that was simply harder to ignore as our brains trained our eyes on thier movement. When LinkNYC went in on the streets of NYC, I thought that it would be another opportunity for more distraction but that at least it would come with a touchpad and free phone calls. What has become clear in the first years of LINK's deployment is that is has no interest in traditional advertising whatsoever. Made up of #artonlink and "fun facts" about NYC, the majority of content displayed is a benign sedative obscuring the less obvious data collection practices being employed. No longer is the material of persuasion a physical image designed to cause some affect, but rather the collection of your data which can be used to more subtlety influence who you are and what you want. We are entering a fantastically dystopian era where the tools of persuasion go "underground" and we are all left wondering why we want a Coke so bad even though we haven't seen the curly font on a bright red background for years. 

WHEN SIDEWALK LABS, a “smart cities” start-up launched by Google, made its Toronto debut in October 2017, a torrent of global adulation followed. Over the next few weeks, Sidewalk choreographed events featuring luminaries such as former Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Sidewalk founder and CEO Dan Doctoroff. There was even a cameo appearance from Canada’s hipster prime minister Justin Trudeau, whose Liberal government is investing heavily to attract innovation-driven companies to Canada. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Up-And-Coming Artists Transforming Parts Of SEPTA Subway Stations

VIA: CBS Local Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Every day Philadelphians are bombarded by advertisements. They’re on their phones, TVs and buildings. But would they feel differently if the ad space was actually art space? More [HERE]

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

HUF AND ERIC HAZE TEAM UP FOR COLLABORATIVE NYC MURAL

There is no line between commerce and art these days because they have the same goal. Ideas and integrity are a thing of the past as we all desperately try to make it in a world that is increasingly competitive and precarious.

VIA: Juxtapoz
To coincide with HUF’s most recent NYC-inspired Spring 2019 collection, the apparel and footwear brand has teamed up with renowned graffiti-artist Eric Haze on a mural installation in the city. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Clandestine Cultural Knowledge of Ancient Graffiti

It is interesting to think of a time when urban scrawl was less an offense and more a part of the everyday. It reminds us that the invention of outdoor advertising as it pertains to public infrastructure has drastically altered our cities by creating a vast network of privatized sacred space untouchable to the normal citizen. This sacred space makes anything outside its boundaries profane, an unintelligent interruption to the ordered logic of a public environment where messages have their rightful real estate and anything else is an intrusion.

It makes me think that while there may not be a direct connection, the distance between the urban neglect and lack of investment in our cities and the invention of the JCDecaeux model of privately financed public infrastructure paid for by advertising isn't far. Neoliberal policies that favor privatization have always taken advantage of our sites of degeneration to maximize profits. Take gentrification as a prime example. Neighborhoods that are neglected over many years have depressed values and thus maximal profit potential for investors who guise thier wealth extraction as regeneration.

The same goes for the outdoor advertising world. lack of investment in the public environment in general, and more specifically bus shelter infrastructure created an opportunity for wealth extraction. We will "regenerate" this space and in the process create an unprecedented opportunity for profit. Some 50 years after the JCD models invention, talk of undoing the relationship between public infrastructure and advertising is almost unheard of an a long stretch for even the most liberal of voices.

VIA: Hyperallergic

Saqqara is an ancient Egyptian site that was used for burials over thousands of years. Of these, the most famous is the Step Pyramid of Djoser (a king of Egypt’s Third Dynasty) built roughly 4,700 years ago. Visit there today and one of the things you might see, in a building near the Step Pyramid, is a room with glass that protects an inscription. Not any ordinary inscription, this is actually tourist graffiti. Why protect graffiti? As it happens, this example of graffiti was left by a tourist at the site over 3,000 years ago. More [HERE]

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Right-wing extremists hijack advertising space in Berlin

I know I don't agree with the message but I am all for an open and democratic public visual environment.

VIA: Rbb 24
Activists of the far-right "Identitarian Movement" have plundered billboards of Wall AG in Berlin. They exchanged existing advertising with their own posters at several locations. This warns the movement observed by the constitutional protection, among other things, from a suspected infiltration. The action was carried out according to the Identity movement in other German cities. More [HERE]

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Friday, February 1, 2019

Factcheck: ‘Eén reclamebord verbruikt evenveel energie als drie huishoudens'

While it is poor form to have your facts easily misinterpreted or refuted, the fact that this article concentrates solely on debunking the specific amount of energy an advertisement uses and not on the underlying premise of the argument seems short sighted. We need to make smart choices about the way we use our collective resources be they energy or our attention. The fact that we use any resources on the promotion of commercial media in our shared public spaces should be the question at hand, not how much.

VIA: Bruzz
De posters van Act For Climate Justice moeten de aandacht trekken en dat is alvast gelukt. Niet alleen in Brussel, maar ook in Leuven, Gent, Oostende, Antwerpen, Namen en Luik werden ze in de nacht van 29 op 30 januari opgehangen op elektronische reclameborden. Naast de claim over het hoge energieverbruik wordt opgeroepen massaal de betrokken ministers rechtstreeks aan te spreken. Dat kan via de website wakeupyourministers.be. More [HERE]

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Monday, January 28, 2019

GOOGLE’S SIDEWALK LABS PLANS TO PACKAGE AND SELL LOCATION DATA ON MILLIONS OF CELLPHONES

As an anti-advertising activist I am becoming more and more aware that the quaint methods once employed by the attention industry are becoming obsolete. In NYC the phonebooth infrastructure, once a ubiquitous form of street furniture across the five boroughs, is rapidly being replaced by digital WiFi stations. While these digital structures do have screens on either side that show advertisements intermittently between more benign content like PSA's, "public art" and fun facts about the city we live in, they are a trojan horse. If the objective of advertising is to influence your behavior, the old method of putting a picture in front of you is costly, cumbersome and largely ineffective when weighed against the capabilities made available through the tracking of our bodily motions and online behaviors. Surveillance capitalism is quickly replacing the old forms of influence with new far more insidious methods unknown and unseen to most of us. As I grapple what that means for my practice as an artist I will continue to report on new ideas and methods being developed to influence our behavior that fall outside of the typical advertising in public space dilemma.

VIA: The Intercept
MOST OF THE data collected by urban planners is messy, complex, and difficult to represent. It looks nothing like the smooth graphs and clean charts of city life in urban simulator games like “SimCity.” A new initiative from Sidewalk Labs, the city-building subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has set out to change that. More [HERE]

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Me and Clint Merry Xmas

 
Good old Me and Clint going all out for the holidays

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NYC Kiosks Invite Artists to Pay Nearly $1,000 to Show Their Work

Another Pay to Play Opportunity for Art in Public Spaces. RJ Rushmore of AiAP writes for Hyperallergic about the New MVOV campaign on LINK NYC.

RJ does as a great job calling out MVOV and the absurdity of paying a gatekeeper to use our shared public spaces. Often the inclusion of art into the commercial space that we call public space is an opportunity for some commercial enterprise and this example is not different. Usually art and artists are used to give respectability to public space land grabs by consumerist ideologies but this example is just straight profiteering. You want to see your work in public space? Do like the rest of us and pay up.
LinkNYC, the “communications network” of digital advertising displays disguised as WiFi hotspots on New York City streets, has gotten into the artwashing game. Artists are being asked to pay to play in what is marketed as an open call for art in public space. More [HERE]

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Two Related Articles About Advertising and Choice

Two recent articles in the NY Times caught my attention through their relationship to one another. The first was "Places Where Smartphones Tracked People’s Movements," [HERE] and the second was "Digital Data Gives Billboard Owners More Reason to ‘Love a Good Traffic Jam’." [HERE]  Each suggest how tracking and recognition will go hand in hand to deliver targeted content that is powerful enough to bend choice in ways I don't think we have seen before. 


The goal of advertising is to present you with an idea that you will act upon. Often this is the consumption of a good or service. Persuasion is the ultimate goal and over the years repetition has been the most effective tool in the advertisers repertoire of tricks. Early on advertisers increased their chances of reaching target audiences by inserting messages at regular intervals on many advertising platforms at once, including TV, Outdoor, Print and Radio. As audiences grew, so did the advertisers ability to segment them through Nielsen ratings, focus groups, and social research. If the original idea was to present the message as often as possible, It was quickly updated with a caveat to target the vulnerable. Repeat as many times as possible, but do so to those most susceptible to your charms. For a long time everyone understood the predatory nature of advertising and accepted the fate of being distracted at regular intervals during most social events. It was a price we were wiling to pay for whatever gesture was made in return. TV programming, radio shows, print articles, subway systems, all paid for through our attention to the incantations speckled throughout. For many it has been entirely overwhelming and yet the haphazard way in which advertising content stills seems to seep into our lives has allowed us to see its idiosyncrasy and critique its end game. I have been able to outsmart the system because it revealed itself with each clumsy campaign that I was uninterested in and which revealed the production and consumption cycle in all its uselessness. I took the indignation I felt at these moments of clarity and carried them with me into my other consumer interactions. I was skeptical. The problem I see with new recognition and targeting technologies is that the messages will become so well targeted that I wont have the opportunity to peer behind the curtain. That each message will be so well attuned to my actual desires that I will begin to loose the line between what is actually me and what is the me that the machine has built for me. A few years of cross pollination between my actual personality and the very close replica of my personalty that machines are now capable of building, and my choices stop being my choices alone but some amalgamation. Its a scary and yet somewhat utopian prospect when you really get down to it, and one I'd like to think more about in 2019.

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Monday, December 3, 2018

Sante Publique - Participatory Civic Media and the Pursuit of a Collective Will

 
Santé Publique_Film from Clément Fessy on Vimeo.
Lately I have been thinking about the term Participatory Civic Media and what that would look like in practice. For years my work was a reaction to the misuse of our shared public space by advertising. Taking matters into my own hands I practiced a righteous form of civil disobedience in which I allowed myself to trespass on the private property rights of outdoor media companies in order to air my grievances in the court of public opinion. I still very much agree with this type of direct action tactic and feel comfortable advocating for a more lenient understanding of public visual space usage and rights. The PublicAccess project is a good example of my thoughts on the matter. In stark contrast to the broken windows theory, I believe a little anarchy on the streets is a far better scenario than the pristine walls of an over policed well controlled city.

While I would love to convince everyone to participate in the curation of thier shared environment without care for the consequences, I must admit that most people don't see the value in breaking the law to put up pictures on the street, and many people aren't compelled to do so even if it were legal. And yet I truly believe that placing something you have made onto our shared city streets is a worthwhile exercise that can change your relationship to your city. Suddenly you realize that the imagery that surrounds us is part of an attentional economy created by the accumulation of our bodies and eyeballs. Your part in creating this economy gives you rights to it usage that can suddenly feel trampled upon when you realize that advertising has commandeered the majority of our shared public environment, and we have criminalized most non transactional appropriations. Outrage might not be the right word but questioning who gets to use our shared public spaces and who benefits from its usage is the natural progression of ideas after using public space for your own thoughts and desires.
 
It is therefore incumbent on me to think beyond the civil disobedience projects whose righteous indignation is a good measure of my concern but less useful as a tool for mass persuasion. How can I convince citizens to participate in the curation of thier shared public spaces so that they can reap the benefits of that participation and come to realize their rights as citizens to dictate how thier cities look? The answer seems to be working in more formal ways which set aside the unsavory aspects of how I believe public space should be used in favor of participation above all else.

Last year I bit my tongue and dived head first into the Sante Publique project. After being invited to Sainte Etienne to paste on the Le Mur wall, I was told by the curators that the city had in addition offered me 75 Lollipop advertising pillars. These freestanding advertising venues were operated by a an outdoor advertising company that handled the cities public advertising on bus shelters, trams, and lollipops. As part of their contract with Sainte Etienne, 75 spaces were reserved for broadcasting of cultural events and related messaging and represented the altruism that masked the malevolence which is blanketing a city in advertising to turn a profit for private corporation. By agreeing to use these spaces I would be accepting the current version of public space usage in which private companies controlled the infrastructure on which messages were broadcast, profiting from it greatly, and returning a small bit of that space as an act of kindness to be lauded.

If I had my way we would kick the for profit advertising companies off our streets, treat the attentional economy we all create like the collective resource that it is, and use our shared public spaces to fund a vast network of participatory civic media structures meant to advocate the views of each cities unique citizenry. Baby steps. If that was the goal, I still needed to convince the public that they wanted to participate in the civic media environment. So I agreed and let go of the fact that the Sante Publique project would leave intact the system I was ultimately trying to remove. Instead I concentrated on reaching people who were unlikely to think about our shared public visual environment. bakers, teachers, scientists, singers, poets, secretaries, garbage men, and everyone in between. Instead of using the spaces for my own artwork, I would offer the spaces to these unsuspecting citizens.

The result was a city in which for 1 week 75 unique voices graced the streets and a new way of looking at the public visual environment in Sainte Etienne was established. Participants gained an appetite for seeing thier own thoughts reflected on thier city streets and those who saw thier work were offered an alternative vision in which public space was used by individuals instead of advertising and institutionally sanctioned messages. When the project was over people weren't exactly questioning if the advertising company who sanctioned our project should exist, but they were wondering why their access to public space was limited to a one off art experience. Many people asked if we would repeat the project again next year, and if it would grow to include more participants. I couldn't answer that question for sure but if Sainte Etienne was progressive enough to continue down this path, the eventual result after sustained growth would be a city with little time for the advertising on its streets and a vested interest in the Participatory Civic Media network they had slowly developed over the years.

Huge thanks to Marlene Mendes for collaborating with me on this project and to Ella an Pitr for their initial and continued support. Thanks to Clement Fessy for creating the beautiful documentation. Thanks to Raphael Jonjour and the city of Sainte Etienne for being so progressive and to all of the friends and family that helped make this happen. Last thank you to the 75 participants that took the time to contribute to this project and steward their public spaces. 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Supreme Angers by Defacing Street Art with ‘Blessed’ Flyposting

Call it supreme street drama. More [HERE]

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New Public Spaces Are Supposed to Be for All. The Reality Is More Complicated.

VIA: NY Times 
Office workers sip coffee beside men sleeping in chairs pulled together. Tourists park their shopping bags where people shoot up heroin, or drink until they pass out. Panhandlers go table to table seeking handouts. Piles of trash, used needles and worse (human feces) have drawn complaints. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Your Kid’s Apps Are Crammed With Ads

VIA: NY Times
Many developers market apps for children as being educational. So Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician who wrote the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for children and media, wanted to check that out. More [HERE]

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Tech Companies Want to Run Our Cities

VIA: Medium

In Rio de Janeiro, a NASA-style control center aggregates data from hundreds of surveillance cameras and sensors built into the city since it partnered with IBM in 2010. In Phoenix, Arizona, Google spin-off Waymo is shuttling workers around in self-driving cars in partnership with the city’s transit network. And in the Chinese city of Xiangyang, advanced facial recognition technology from one of the country’s many surveillance startups gives residents entry to a housing complex while adding to a police database. More [HERE]

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Floating Billboard Barges are the New Reality for LES Waterfront

With the gold rush of the Lower East Side waterfront comes the vultures. Several readers have noticed the recent influx of billboard barges floating across the East River. As this area continues to gentrify, and with the prospect of three new large-scale luxury developments looming, those eyeballs are obviously evermore valuable to advertisers. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Protests as Sydney Opera House turned into billboard to advertise horse racing

VIA: Dezeen
The Jørn Utzon-designed Sydney Opera House has been lit up with graphics to advertising a horse race, prompting protests from designers and locals.

More [HERE]

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Sunday, September 30, 2018

On Crowded London Streets, Councils Fight a Flood of Phone Boxes

VIA: NY Times
LONDON — The British telephone box is not dead yet. In parts of central London, a box stands sentinel every 100 feet — and if phone companies got their way, they’d plant one every 50 feet.

More [HERE]

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Zaha Hadid Architects transforms the classic billboard into public art

VIA: Archinect
Zaha Hadid Architects has created a new design for street advertising with JCDecaux Group, a multinational corporation known for its bus-stop advertising systems and billboards. Creating a sculptural advertising approach, the firm's design reinvents the classic billboard into public art. Brands have been invited to bid for placement on the 85 by 20 foot screen structure. So far Audi and Coty are the first to sign up. More [HERE]

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

‘Reclaiming public space’: How Philadelphians turned ads into art

I am continually baffled by the fact that we clearly want more public art but we still let corporations set the price for access to use our very own shared public spaces.

Almost two months ago, the ads came.

“300 jeeps cheap!” the words in bright yellow lettering blared from nearly 400 Big Belly trash cans around Center City. It’s followed by a 1-800 number for an auto dealership.

Immediately, Philadelphians took notice. Journalist Stephanie Farr tweeted that the ads looked terrible, journalist Jim MacMillan called them hideous. The words “eye sore” were thrown around on Twitter, and within days one can lay in a melted pile on the ground (though it’s unclear whether that was linked to outrage over the ads).

More [HERE]

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Stolen bus shelter portrait of protester submitted in Archibald Prize

VIA: The Age

On a warm evening last November, Melbourne street artist CDH broke into a Moorabbin bus shelter and started furiously spraying an image on to a Streets ice-cream advertisement. Soon after he stole away into the night with the defaced billboard, after convincing a pair of police officers who challenged him that he had “permission”.

More [HERE]

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Sunday, August 5, 2018

New York Today: Getting a Subway Ad

There is something incredibly dystopian and also utopian about beaming in real time moments of collective joy to an entire city.

VIA: NY Times
Good morning on this so-so Thursday.

If you’re reading this on the subway, perhaps you’re sitting (or squished like a sardine) near an ad.

Maybe for a mattress.

Or tampons.

Or a divorce lawyer.

Or college.

For a transit system with about 5.6 million daily riders — an audience of 11 million eyeballs — you can be sure ad space on the subway is coveted real estate.

More [HERE]

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

‘New York’ magazine covers become public art in citywide installation

The line between art and commerce on our streets has become so blurred that a New York magazine "Wildposting" campaign can be pitched as a public art program. Wildposting is illegal advertising, or graffiti by another name. When someone wild posts on your property, the image below shows what you have to do in order to avoid fines from the city. I'm not saying I want NY magazine to stop, but I am saying that we need to reevaluate what constitutes proper use of public space and who gets access and who does not.


VIA: Curbed NYC
In honor of New York Magazine’s 50th anniversary, the publication is launching a year-long exhibit showcasing specially-designed New York covers by 50 renowned artists, called simply “A Public Art Project.” More [HERE]

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Berlin Werbefrei - Working On An Ad Free Berlin

I am excited to see Berlin Werbefrei organizing to make Berlin Ad free. It would be incredible to see such a large city make that kind of quality of life decision, in particular because the way advertising litters Berlin seems in some way to be possible because of how tolerance of is a part of the attitude of the city itself.

If you have ever been to Berlin you are familiar with the semi lawless attitude towards how the city is used that has created a thriving public culture. Outdoor beer gardens, heavy use of public parks for socializing, squats, street art, graffiti, bike culture, are all positive examples of a city that is tolerant with how it is described on a day to day basis. This has also led to a lot of advertising, wildposting and other street communications. These ads mix with a healthy dose of public communication that makes the city streets ripe with information and a place for cultural notification and ingestion. 

While getting rid of the ads is a good, no great idea, it should be noted that the type of crackdown on advertising, particularly when it is done under the auspices of quality of life improvement and aesthetic concerns, can have far reaching effects that aren't always positive for a free wheeling town like Berlin. I hope Berlin Werbefrei is able to create a distinction between the advertising that litters the city and the more local public communications that should be considered a vital part of their public culture and deserve amnesty from any impending laws. 

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Tackling the Internet’s Central Villain: The Advertising Business


Pretend you are the lead detective on a hit new show, “CSI: Terrible Stuff on the Internet.” In the first episode, you set up one of those crazy walls plastered with headlines and headshots, looking for hidden connections between everything awful that’s been happening online recently.  More [HERE]

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Monday, January 29, 2018

The Propaganda I See on My Morning Commute

Everything we look at, particularly those messages which are put on repeat, should be considered propaganda. This includes the advertising that surrounds us. That propoganda can be a force for good if we control who implements the messages, and how.

VIA: NY Times
BEIJING — People joke that it’s now easier in many Chinese cities to use Communist Party slogans rather than street names to give directions.

More [HERE]

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Campaign to Replace Public Ads with Art Lives on as a Book and an Exhibition

VIA: Hyperallergic
It’s been just over a year since the launch of Art in Ad Places, a guerrilla project to replace a small fraction of the flotsam of display advertising filling the New York cityscape with art. Now that the 52-week public service campaign has run its course, an exhibition of photographs of the public art project shot by street art photographer Luna Park, and an accompanying book, will ensure that the ephemeral project endures. More [HERE]

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Collisions Zine Released

    One of my ongoing personal projects these past few years has been the Collisions series. These photos document simple graphic BW patterns illegally installed into outdoor advertising around the world. On the street, the patterns are intended to grab a viewers attention with an image that has little reference to advertising and is hard to interpret as anything other than an interruption. I am interested in viewers thinking about the act of disobedience, the space around the advertisement, the frame that holds it. I want to create a small amount of room for radical imaginaries to blossom and allow utopian visions to tumble out of simple disruptions of reality.
"In elaborating and image of the future, utopian thought also generates a viewpoint from which the present becomes open to critique."
   I choose the Collisions locations very carefully to create strong, well balanced photographs of the city. I want viewers of the photographs to be able to come back to the imagery over and over again.  I want them to be meditative and an opportunity for believers to renew thier belief.

For those that only see the documentation, the images can be anemic. Proof of the politics that took place on the street isnt immediately recognizable. But hidden within the image itself is a digital video of the street installation viewable through an augmented reality mobile app. In this way the photographs take thier creative politics with them wherever they go, and for me remain charged objects.
  Last year I decided to take the first 15 images from the Collisions series and put them in a small Zine/Booklet. It is a beautiful little signed edition of 400. Three essays by Jeff Ferrell, Thomas Dekeyser, and Carlo McCormick give the imagery unique context and insight. Thier thoughts give credence to the idea that our role as individuals is to push on the margins and expand our collective understanding of the world around us.

Get a copy of this first Collisions Zine [HERE]

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Artist Sells Off Ad Space on a Rauschenberg to Destroy It

VIA: Hyperallergic
Artist Nikolas Bentel is on a mission to destroy an original Robert Rauschenberg in a project intended to emphasize how the art market is, in his words, “a glorified stock market.” Beginning this week, the artist — who is part of the New Museum-led incubator New Inc. — is selling off sections of the artwork as advertising space, so its surface will eventually be covered with an eclectic assortment of images.
More [HERE]

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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Civilian Exhibition at HLP

My first solo exhibition with Harlan Levey Projects was titled Civilian, and ran from November 16th to December 27th, 2017. A confluence of events afforded me some extra installation time which I used to prototype a sculptural piece that had been in the back of my mind. I think it really helped the installation and I look forward to creating more sculptural works in the future.

The front room consisted of 3, floor to ceiling, wheatpasted Collisions images. Each of these images augmented which brought you into the public where so much of my work takes place or originates. Below you were 22 bus shelter advertisements taken from the streets of Brussels over the course of a week. The advertisement was for Prima Donna, a women's lingerie company.

In the next room were 4 Labor pieces, 1 large Titan Smash piece, and the aforementioned sculpture which I titled 115 Fluorescent Tubes. Each of these pieces required me to steal advertising infrastructure. The most subtle works were the Labor series which start with me taking the plexiglass that normally lies behind outdoor advertising and which diffuses the fluorescent lights into an even illumination. These pieces of plexiglass are meticulously cleaned and then sanded to take on the appearance of soft marble. I then also take selected advertisements and paint out all of the text leaving only the image or product behind. The sanded plexiglass sheets are then placed on top of the image, one after another, until the image is almost illegible, leaving only the faintest trace for you to decipher.

In contrast to that work was the Titan Smash work which is made by stealing the Titan signs which adorn most NYC phonebooths to label to company who owns the booth. These signs are then smashed, reassembled, and cased in resin so that the sharp edges of the signs protrude from the frames. With all five parts, the piece stood a little over 8' x 4'.

And last was the prototype work that I created on site by removing 115 fluorescent lights from over 40 outdoor advertising locations around Brussels. Over the course of 3 days I carefully walked circles out from the gallery and back along a different path collecting bulbs along the way. Placed on a small stand and middle column that held the ballasts and wiring, the lights were wrapped in black furniture bands and simply stood upright in the gallery. The inner 12 bulbs were illuminated so that the bundle glowed from within.

For me the back room, and in particular the 115 fluorescent light's sculpture excited me as an artist. Had I made the sculpture using purchased materials, it would have been a nice lamp, but having taken the lights without permission I had transformed them into objects that could warrant conversation and dialogue. It was like small alchemy and one of the first pieces that I think is truly whole.

Read a review of the exhibition [HERE]



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