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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.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

New Work for Two Upcoming Group Shows

A few years ago I was photographed by Søren Solkær in Norway for the Surface project. He set out to document the street art and graffiti artists that have helped make the genre such an important part of the art world, and came away with hundreds of portraits of some of its most influential characters. I was proud to be one of them, and even more proud to be showing with a select few at two upcoming exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles. 
The first is exhibition opens tonight at Subliminal Projects, 1331 W Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles. For this exhibition, Søren asked the participating artists to integrate the original portrait he took of us into a new piece for the show. I chose to break Søren's image into two so that I could install each piece separately in a phonebooth. Once installed, each phonebooth was photographed to produce the framed diptych above. 
The second exhibition opens on May 2nd at the Allouche Gallery, 115 Spring street, NYC. For this show, the gallery wanted each participating artist to work in a 3'x3' format. Because my gallery work usually happens in stolen ad frames, 3'x3' doesn't make a lot of sense to me and so I chose to take the opportunity to do a material study built around one of my favorite objects these days, the JCDHEX Public Access key.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015


Here's a nice piece on Spectre's recent ad takeover work. Love what he is up to.

VIA: Brooklyn Street Art

Yes, you were expecting an ad. Maybe one from News Channel 3 and charming Chuck and beautiful Belinda and that wacky weather guy and the whole 6 O’clock News Team. Instead, you got a glowing abstraction, a few seconds of calm on your way down the stairs into the subway. Artists continue to take over the ad space that continues to take over our public space, and these new backlit missives are from Specter. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ad Takeover for Public Access Goes Marketing Viral

In an odd twist, this PublicAccess ad takeover probably got Fritos more publicity than one would like. It is pretty hilarious though.

VIA: CBS Local San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A San Francisco Muni bus stop “advertisement” in the Mission District depicts Chester Cheetah as Jesus, drawn hanging from a rough sketch of a cross with the words, “He Died For Our Snacks.” More [HERE]

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Watch This Now

NO AD DAY - 2014 from Vermibus on Vimeo.
A while back, Vermibus put together a international NOAD day in which participation was open and the objective simple. Remove as much advertising as you could and free public space of the commercial burden right before international buy nothing day. The first year, participants were mostly those within the anti public advertising movement, but the hope is that year by year the project will grow to include a much larger and diverse group of individuals who share a concern about our over consumption of consumer messages.

This video was released over a month ago and I am very late posting it but please give it a watch. This is an important issue and Vermibus' work is aimed at highlighting it in a serious and meaningful manner.

I look forward to next year and watching this project grow. 

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spending Time With Friends

The other day I went out walking the city with a few friends, including one very special Spaniard I know from Madrid. We each installed a few pieces and then had a little dinner at my place. No one took it too seriously but below are some of the varying results. 
 Cash 4
 Jordan Seiler

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Monday, April 13, 2015

The Beauty of Un-Advertising by VladyArt

Image VIA: Vandalog
“the beauty of un-advertising” by VladyArt in Catania, Italy

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Monday, March 30, 2015

I Call It Progress

You might not think this is progress, but I do. Once the ads go away, what comes next is up to us.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Mobstr - Graffiti in a frame

Trying to keep this site updated with content has fallen victim to the ease of Instagram posting and the "like" feedback loop that is incredibly satisfying while simultaneously being a drain on my faculties. I've got some new work coming up soon, NOAD is still well worth checking out with new Gif art showing now, and Public Access which will be expanding in the net month after its initial launch. Until then, enjoy this beautiful and honest Mobstr piece. 

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mobstr Is At It Again

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I am a big fan of Mobstr's work. Here are two recent pieces in London.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Cost of Paying Attention

I have always said, if not slightly in jest, that advertisers should pay for the space they take up in my mind. More specifically outdoor advertisers, as thier messages are forced into my brain without my consent and therefor occupy a special subsection of crap that fills my thoughts. If I hum a pudding jingle that I saw on TV, it is my own fault for letting that message creep into my mind in exchange for a little sitcom induced brain shutdown. If I cant seem to get the image of a 4 story overly sexed Justin Bieber out of my mind, I have only Calvin Klien and Outfront Media to blame for that intrusion. 
It is with that thought that I post this NY Times article by Mathew B. Crawford. His argument, which is stated eloquently but isnt particularly new, is that we should treat our visual landscape like any other resource. We protect our air and water for the common good and the visual landscape that we share in public should be treated similarly so that the rampant abuse of that space does not cause negative economic or health issues for the population at large. I couldn't agree more. Mathew focuses his attention on an airport, which provides some nice examples of how our visual landscape is a worthwhile resource by juxtaposing the general airport with the paid lounges. If the wealthy are willing to pay for silence, or a lack of intrusion into thier visual landscape, it must have some worth.
Airports though, are both public and private spaces and while I couldnt agree more that they should be treated similarly to our shared city streets when it comes to visual pollution, actual public space has a more profound reason to remain commercial free. When we allow advertising to purchase the facades of our buildings, occupy our urban infrastructure, and generally access any and all of our shared environment, we lose something more than the valuable resource of silence. What we loose is access to our city and our literal ability to shape the environment we live in by visual interaction and cultural production.
"The street is a cultural space, one of the essential functions of which is to promote public interaction by facilitating self-expression. That’s a function that a space can have more or less, and it’s one that a space can lose."
If we allow advertising and commercial messaging to monetize the surface of our city, we loose access to those surfaces and with that our ability to define the cultural landscape in which we exist. To me this might be the most tragic loss due to public advertising but it surely isnt the only loss. Demanding an ad free public space is our right as citizens and of paramount importance as we continually define the objectives of our cities and the society that we want them to create. 
A FEW years ago, in a supermarket, I swiped my bank card to pay for groceries. I watched the little screen, waiting for its prompts. During the intervals between swiping my card, confirming the amount and entering my PIN, I was shown advertisements. Clearly some genius had realized that a person in this situation is a captive audience. More [HERE]

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Friday, March 6, 2015

A Conference Considers the Philosophy of Street Art

Hrag Vartanian just interviewed Nicholas Riggle about a conference at Pratt Institute finishing up this weekend with a keynote by Allison Young. I wont be able to make it, but I highly recommend making the effort to any readers who might be in New York. In the short interview, Riggle makes an amazing point that I think relates well to this blogs thesis, and my understanding of advertisings misalignment with our goals for cities and thier public spaces. 
"The street is a cultural space, one of the essential functions of which is to promote public interaction by facilitating self-expression. That’s a function that a space can have more or less, and it’s one that a space can lose." 
Thinking about what advertising does to our shared public environment in relation to this quote, it becomes pretty clear that a fully functioning public space cannot be one that includes commercial messaging. 
Today, a three-day conference titled Philosophy of Street Art: Art in and of the Street begins at Pratt Institute and New York University. Organized by Gregg Horowitz of Pratt, Nicholas Riggle of Lafayette College, and Christy Mag Uidhir of the University of Houston, the event will feature an artist panel (with Leon Reid IV, HOTTEA, ELBOW-TOE, and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh), two days of papers and discussions, and a keynote lecture by a leading authority on the topic, Alison Young of the University of Melbourne, who will speak about “Mainstreaming the Street: The Cultural Value of Illicit Street Art." Read the full interview [HERE]

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Prince Media Keeps Illegal Sign Locations Visible With Art, Until They Don't.

Mark Samosonovich has some great new images up in Manhattan, (above) and Brooklyn, that will lighten your day and make you think at the same time. They are the kind of selfless public art that one wants to see everywhere. In fact there isn't even a name to distinguish who the artwork is by, and its this anonymity which makes these works a pleasure to take in. That said, all of these artworks went up at the same time, in places where Prince Media once ran advertising. The coincidence seemed worth looking into because I didn't know too much about this particular "boutique" billboard company, and hey..that's what we do. 
In the past I have come to find that behind many, if not all "donations" of outdoor advertising space to artists and thier work, is a self motivated billboard company getting more from the deal than thier altruism would like to reveal. Tax deductions, percent for arts programs, and simple lack of business, can all motivate an outdoor ad company to "give" some of thier space to the arts. In fact a lack of commercial clientele is often a motivator for art in public spaces as companies attempt to keep thier stock lively and with content, when business slows down. None of these reasons make outdoor advertising companies look particularly kind, but aren't all that outwardly devious either. 
In New York, I have found one other far more insidious reason that art finds its way onto outdoor advertising infrastructure, and that, I believe, is exemplified by Prince Media's recent donation of space for Mark Samosonovich. Often, advertising companies will put up signs without obtaining the proper permits from the city of NYC Department of Buildings. They will operate these illegal signs until the highly understaffed DOB finds thier offending signage and begins to levy fines against the company. This can take months, if not years, all the while said company is making money from the illegal sign. It just so happens that all 3 of the locations Prince Media offered for Mark's work were facing DOB sign violations, the most egregious of which can be seen [HERE]
Once a sign is found and a violation has been placed on the building to which the sign is attached, things become a little more serious and continuing to run commercial copy can be a bad idea for business. It is at this point that many outdoor advertising companies, and I believe in this case, Prince Media, offers the space to an artist. Art, not needing a permit, does not accrue more violations, allowing the sign to remain "active" while the company resolves the violation and any fines associated with it. Once a resolution is complete, its back to business as usual, and no more art. What in the beginning looked like a neighborly gesture, turns out to be a self interested ploy to keep potential clients aware of advertising infrastructure while violations and illegal activities are negotiated in court, tying up tax dollars and the DOB legal team. 
It is this type of false altruism that I continue to see practiced by the outdoor advertising industry that fuels my belief that monetizing our public walls is inherently problematic for a city. Leaving companies, whose intention is to make money from public eyes in public space, in charge of who gets access to our shared walls, does not work. The motivations are simply misaligned with the public's interests. 
Mark Samosonovich
Mark Samosonovich

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Animated GIFs meet augmented reality and street art

I could not be more excited about the launch of the most recent NO AD curatorial project. RJ Rushmore has gathered 13 Gif artists to present the most exciting use of the NO AD technology yet. Each advertisement in the subway this month will trigger the moving image and with that, usher in an expectation that NO AD will continue to reach beyond the static 2D image and present its users with high quality content that takes advantage of this digital format. Visit the site now and get started. www.noad-app.com
A screenshot from Bob-omb, featuring stills of GIF art by James Kerr (Scorpion Dagger) and Dave Whyte.

This month Re+Public is excited to release an all-GIF art update to the NO AD app, in collaboration with RJ Rushmore of Vandalog. NO AD is a free mobile app that uses Augmented Reality technology to resurface New York subway advertisements with art, creating an alternative digital exhibition space. Viewers can discover works of art throughout the city’s subway system. The more stations you visit, the more art you experience. With this update, every piece in the exhibition will be animated, and NO AD will be highlighting GIF art for the first time.

This week, the NO AD app updates to feature Bob-omb, an exhibition of animated GIFs curated by RJ Rushmore. Bob-omb includes 39 of GIFs by 13 individuals and collectives, weaponizing GIF art as a tool for reimaging public space. The artists range from filmmakers to illustrators to journalists, and the variety and depth of their artwork should surprise any viewers who may think that GIFs are primarily for memes and Buzzfeed articles. With this exhibition, NO AD users will be able to take static subway advertisements and transform them into dynamic artworks on their smartphones.

Artists featured in Bob-omb include by The Barkers, Caitlin Burns, Dave Whyte, Hrag Vartanian, James Kerr – Scorpion Dagger, Jeremyville, Maori Sakai, Molly Soda, Paolo Čerić aka Patakk, Ryan Seslow, The Current Sea, YoMeryl, and Zack Dougherty.

Bob-omb continues NO AD’s history of collaborating with curators to bring new and surprising art to public spaces through Augmented Reality technology. Previous exhibitions in NO AD have included collaborations with the International Center of Photography and Subway Art Blog amongst others. Future updates to the app will highlight additional collaborations with institutions and curators across disciplines. NO AD’s mission is to create an alternative exhibition space for New Yorkers, bringing them closer to the rich cultural content the city has to offer.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Lamp Super Bowl Ad Break 2015

The Lamp is an amazing organization that teaches media literacy to young adults, and is run by DC Vito, its executive director. Thier online video editor is used to "break" commercial tv messages and this video shows thier efforts in action during the 2015 Superbowl. While I know this isn't outdoor advertising related, these ads are about as public as they get. Giving students the ability to "talk back" to these often misleading messages, empowers them to think critically about all of the imagery and content intent on altering thier behavior. Visit the Lamp, [HERE]

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Work With Spectre - 2015

PublicAdCampaign 2015
PublicAdCampaign 2015
Spectre 2015

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

The PublicAccess Project is Online!

Over the past year, I have been slowly working on a project that I call PublicAccess. While the project is ongoing and will continue to grow over the coming years, the website is finally finished and ready for users. PublicAccess is a participatory open source project and we hope you get involved.
     Nearly every major metropolitan city has an active bus or trolley system. Over the years, this vital public service has become an integral part of the global outdoor advertising industry in the form of bus shelters and other municipal infrastructure. Chances are if a city has meaningful surface transit, a select few global outdoor advertising companies will operate public amenities like bus shelters, for which they have the sole right to display for profit commercial advertising. 
   This global corporate message stands against our public interest by distracting us from each other in favor of ourselves, invoking our desires to the detriment of our environment, and silencing our public voices by institutionalizing corporate visual expression in our shared public spaces. The PublicAccess project aims to reverse this one-way communication by providing access to municipal infrastructure for public dialogues. Artists and individuals can treat the tools offered through this site as functional sculptures to interject their thoughts into our shared public spaces. 
    PublicAccess is an ongoing project. We are looking for ways to expand this map, and the tools we can offer. If you do not see your city, or if you can help us fill in this map more accurately, please email us at info@publicadcampaign.com.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Add-Art 2.0 Is Available Now!

Steve Lambert has continued to be an inspiration for me over the years in large part because he has been able to so seamlessly work in a multitude of media. Add-Art is a Firefox Plugin he and a few others developed a while back that removes browser ads and replaces them with curated art content. The plugin just got a reboot that you can download [HERE] or simply visit add-art.org for more information. With the update comes a slightly different, and more participatory format. Image databases are downloadable from curators like Rhizome, PublicAdCampaign, and NASA, but anyone can submit an image set themselves. If approved, that new image set is made available online just like the curated sets. I think it's a wonderful update to the original Add-Art and hope PublicAdCampaign users will not only use the Plugin, but also submit thier own imagery for consideration.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Without Advertising, the Walls Are Ours Again.

I have always thought that advertising, with its interest in monopolizing public dialogue, and thus its tendency to monopolize public spaces, prevented our city from a proliferation of locally derived artworks. After Contest Promotions' (formerly NPA Outdoor) license to operate was revoked in NYC, hundreds of street level advertising signs were removed. The photo above is just one example of artwork filling the hole left after advertising disappears, and proof of what I think is advertisings role in the degradation of the shared common experience of our public spaces.

This is just one of many examples and I will try to remember to snap more photos on my travels about the city.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

NO AD app Continues to Bring New Content to the NYC Subways in 2015

With the new year comes new content for the NO AD app. This month, we have an exhibition curated by Jowy Romano called Unlimited Ride, which focuses on artists who use the subway as muse. Following Unlimited Ride, NO AD will present a Gif exhibition and look forward to more exciting content in the months to come. With new projects gearing up, we hope you will download the NO AD app and continue to follow this project in 2015. 
UNLIMITED RIDE Curated by Jowy Romano

The New York City Subway is a source of much frustration for its riders, but it also acts as a source of inspiration for many artists. From its oddly beautiful, dilapidated stations; to its iconic train cars; to its riders from all walks of life—the Subway has unlimited potential as a catalyst for art.

Unlimited Ride, a completely digital art show appearing on the NO AD platform, explores the Subway with a diverse group of artists working in several different mediums. The project includes cartoon portraits by Ami Plasse, sculpture by Brina Thurston, sketches by Elbow Toe, watercolor paintings by Joan Iaconetti, MetroCard mosaics by Nina Boesch, black and white photography by Ramin Talaie, oil paintings by Seth Tane and color photography by Stephen Mallon.

More information about NO AD is available in its initial media release and on its website. The app is available for Apple and Android devices. Download at the links below.
 Joan Iaconetti
 App screenshot. Left: Ramin Talaie, Right Ami Plasse
Demo image NO AD x Subway Art Blog - January 2015 www.noad-app.com www.subwayartblog.com

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year and a Reminder to Keep Up the Fight

As we prepare to ring in 2015, PublicAdCampaign would like to wish everyone an exciting New Year to come. From personal street projects, to Augmented Reality mobile apps, to participation in global anti-advertising campaigns, we continue to fight for a more open and publicly oriented shared public space. 
With that in mind, its important to remember that the fight never ends. Deehubs, a Dubai based startup brings the issue into stark focus with its newest venture into drone based billboard projection and other insidious, manipulative ways to interject commercial content into our public lives. 
Paula Rees, of Keep Washington Beautiful made me aware that this Deehubs will be heading to New York after having run a test program in Seattle. Just wanted to say, we are ready to fight in 2015!
New social platform could revolutionize outdoor digital billboard advertising space
VIA: Advertising Age

A Dubai-based startup, Deehubs, has developed a social media platform that connects outdoor digital billboards with audiences in a power play that could deliver the advertising Holy Grail of engagement, interaction and highly targeted commercials. More [HERE]

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Monday, December 29, 2014

New Work by Three Other Artists

I absolutely love this clever collaboration between BR1 and Elfo in Istanbul. 
 Elfo and BR1
Elfo and BR1
Mobstr continues to make fantastic use of billboards by giving the a "voice" which often reinforces advertisings underlying nature to be loud, obnoxious, petty. and self involved. See more [HERE]

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry X-Mas from Are You Dead

This holiday greeting brought to you by Are You Dead.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Iselin for Public Access Project - San Diego

I've been working on an augmented reality project out in San Diego over the past few months. While traveling I always like to make sure I figure out how to break into bus shelters for the Public Access Project (sorry this link will remain broken for a few more weeks). This post is another installation of the Iselin image, proving access was established in SD, and that keys will be made available shortly through a dedicated website that I am looking forward to finally launching in the New Year.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Interview For Tracks - Arte

Here is a little interview/video about the NO AD project and PublicAdCampaign in general. While I don't understand a good portion of this video, I am told it gets to the point quickly and explains the projects well. A big thanks to Tracks for including me in their programming. Oh and that billboard piece in the first frame below is OX, one of my favorite artists.

Jordan Seiler, zizanie dans le métro - Tracks ARTE by Tracks_ARTE

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Zaha Hadid attempts to rethink roadside advertising with billboard design

Designs have been revealed for one of Zaha Hadid's smallest new structures – an advertising billboard for a stretch of road in west London that the architect says will "create a new genre in the roadside advertising canon".

Zaha Hadid was commissioned by outdoor advertising company JCDecaux to design a "curved and flowing" billboard for a narrow plot of land on the south side of West Cromwell Road – one of the main routes into central London from Heathrow airport. More [HERE]

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Grenoble, première grande ville européenne à bannir la publicité de ses rues

Looks like the city of Grenoble has made the decision to remove all outdoor advertising from it's streets. While it seems like there is a healthy debate happening online about the benefits behind such a move, "the city’s deputy mayor Lucile Lheureux explained: “The business model of street advertising is down. Advertisers want to upgrade to digital screens. We don’t want to make that move. We don’t want our city’s children bombarded with animated advertising on TV screens in the street.” 
Although there will only be 326 ads removed in total, (not including the bus shelters which will stay until at least 2019 when the contract is up for renewal) for a city of this size making the bold move to improve the health of its citizens and streets, is a welcome reminder that all is not lost in the fight to improve out shared public spaces. In fact it's got more than a few industry insiders talking seriously about the backlash against brand intrusion. 
Saisissant l’opportunité de la fin de son contrat avec la société JC Decaux, la commune de Grenoble a décidé bannir la publicité de ses rues. La capitale des Alpes va donc devenir la première grande ville européenne à faire démonter ses panneaux, ses colonnes et ses "sucettes". Le but : libérer de l’espace public, développer parallèlement des lieux d’expression citoyenne, et en finir aussi avec un modèle que la municipalité EELV/PG juge « obsolète» et « trop agressif ». En tout, ce sont 326 panneaux publicitaires qui vont ainsi disparaître de l’espace public grenoblois, soit au total plus de 2 000 m² de publicité en moins dans la ville. More [HERE]

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Good Cities Project, Sponsored by Ford

The GOOD cities project is a exploration of our relationship to cities through the eyes of artists, designers, and writers over the course of 5 months. One aspect of the project is a collaboration the Street Museum of Art and three street artists to produce the billboard pictured below.
Artist: Skewville
 Artist: Elle
Artist: Rubin

The GOOD Cities Project — led by Bristol Baughan, Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker — is diving into a five-month multi-media exploration with Ford Motor Company and inviting their favorite thought leaders to create visual love letters to cities across the country. This fall, The Street Museum of Art was asked to share our unique and personal perspective of the city we live in and love through billboard takeovers in and around New York during the month of November. Focusing on found works of street art that have taken on lives of their own throughout this city, SMoA’s behind-the-scenes video and billboard designs call for the public to take an active role in the GOOD Cities Project and ‘Rediscover Our City’ through the lens of a street artist. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

GLMP Video Explanation

I have posted about Kyle Magee in the past so some readers may be familiar with the activist's work in Australia. This new video, along with the post the accompanies it, explains why Kyle does what he does. Kyle is an interesting character in the anti advertising in public space debate. I know from speaking with him that he regards a lot of what myself and other artist call "ad takeover" work as superficial play time activities. And honestly, in light of his approach, it's hard not to agree with him. Kyle has served plenty of jail time and continues to attack the issue from a purely protest standpoint, no obscuring the issue with pretty pictures, Kyle is about results. While I am still unsure of what the right tactics are to raise public awareness about the role for profit advertising plays in our public space, and media at large, I do look to Kyle for inspiration. He is dedicated to changing things in any way he can, and I respect that. 
"i focus my discontent with the mass injustice and ecological destruction of our global systems on for-profit advertising because i believe for-profit advertising to be the most vulnerable component of the for-profit/capitalist/corporate domination of our global politics and economics — i believe it is this for-profit dominance that creates and maintains the core of our global problems, restricting our politics to the point that the power of for-profits and the huge problems that creates cannot be addressed — our fragmented and constricted ‘democracies’ are reduced to pandering to the interests of a global ‘business’ ideology that is the true winner of last centuries proceedings (contrary to the myth that democracy was the big winner)". More [HERE]

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Friday, November 14, 2014

New Work by Mobstr

      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