Friday, July 25, 2008
I woke up early this morning to get to work and found this article in AM NY being passed to me by an unassuming young gentleman at 14th st. This was obviously of concern to me because the marketing of any commercial products within the NYC parks department system is a severe loss of public control over public space. NYC parks have been co-operated by private park conservancy groups as a way for neighborhoods and businesses to control the conditions of select NYC recreational facilities within their area. These few and far between moments of rest in the commercial hum of NYC have long been off limits to advertising. Until April 2006, the amount of money that could be made by park conservancies (private organizations put in charge of running most parks in the city these days) was limited to an amount not worth the conservancies troubles. A new contract was reached with the city allowing unlimited profits on commercial endeavors that made it worth the backlash in public opinion. The result is a million dollar contract between the Central Park Conservancy, NYC, and Chanel clothing, which will allow a commercial "art" project based on Chanel bags to run for 3 weeks in the center of Central Park. This is yet another example of why the private public partnership is so troublesome.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Converse One Star liberation
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
1181 Broadway billboard removed
This sign when I saw it looked suspicious and upon further inspection had realized it was illegal and had already been called in. Two months after the initial complaint when I noticed it, it had still yet to be removed. I called it in to the DOB and sure enough it was removed within the last week. pictured is the before and after.
Illegalsign.ca on 1181 Broadway
Some very important info has been posted on illagalsigns by Rami Tabello about the status of a billboard I called in which had already been deemed illegal and fined $15,000 but has yet to come down. Check it out at this link
Monday, July 21, 2008
The Cleaner Guerilla Advertisement
When perusing magazines these days often one will come across an advertising section that doesn't look so much like advertising. It may look almost as if it was another story written on assignment by a journalist for the magazine. These "advertorials" as they are called ride a fine line of journalistic integrity and are the subject of much controversy similar to that of product placement in motion pictures and modern literature. At least in magazines this is often taken care of by placing a small warning within the advertorial pages which states "This is a paid advertisement."
Guerrilla graffiti advertising is nothing new, but recently I came upon a particularly troubling example which begs for a disclaimer of its own. This advertisement for "The Cleaner" a new show coming out this fall, is almost indistinguishable from modern graffiti and street art in that there is no reference to the channel it is being broadcast on or any indication for that matter that it is a commercial endeavor. I've found that the employment of Graffiti artists to stencil advertisements is often obviously advertising. In this case one must learn to take care when enjoying what they thought was the work of a lonely artist because in fact it is an advertisement made to solicit ones interests.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
AAAFFF mission statement
The Anti Advertising Agency Foundation for freedom runs a granting program designed to lure ad professionals out of the advertising industry and into public service by providing them with grant money to get started. Their mission statement is a well worded demonization of our ill fated consumerist tendencies.
THE AAAFFF MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of the Anti-Advertising Agency Foundation for Freedom is to bring the best and brightest former ad pros together once a year; inspire young people to leave the craft; focus the industry and public at large on the profoundly negative social and economic impacts of advertising; inspire problem-solving methods focused on the most important issues facing the real world; and shine a light on the influence that advertising, media, and marketing industries have on dwindling public space, atrophying human relationships, and the destruction of democracy.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Kropotkin after the Paris Commune
speaking of the Paris of 1877, six years after the fall of the Paris Commune and the restoration of privilege, Kropotkin observed that, "Year in and year out thousands of children grow up in the midst of the moral and material filth of our great cities, in the midst of a population demoralized by hand to mouth living....Their home is a wretched lodging today, the streets tomorrow.... And at the other end of the ladder, what does the child growing up on the streets see? Luxury, stupid and insensate, smart shops, reading matter devoted to exhibiting wealth, a money-worshiping cult developing a thirst for riches, a passion for living at the expense of others."
Kropotkin speaks of a time not so long ago which describes our current city with impressive accuracy. Of particular interest to me is his idea that amidst the luxury is reading material devoted to this wealth which I think has strong parallels to our city and its devotion to public advertising culture. Specialty shops and high end restaurants, rents that are unaffordable by even middle income families all amidst the a flurry of "public reading material". Advertising provides the imagery that reflects how we wish to use our city and what we wish to use it for. How does one think about life when commerce is all that is available to look at. Our devotion to necessity is painted on the walls of our city.
Labels: random thoughts
Friday, July 18, 2008
Not so recently Cemusa outdoor began installing new bus stop and magazine kiosk outdoor furniture in NYC. The new bus stops are equipped with pertinent public transportation information as well as rotating advertising allowing twice the number of ads to be placed in the same amount of space. Along with these "improvements" the new bus stops from what I've been told are equipped with bluetooth technology allowing them to beam pertinent transportation information along with advertising to bluetooth equipped devices being carried by pedestrians and motorists. We will see what comes of this but in the meantime I think its worth checking out their website and taking a look at the language they use to justify their current project.
If you dont want to look at the site at least read what they say about their NYC endeavor on their splash page.
As a global company with successful street furniture contracts around the world, Cemusa is pleased to announce the addition of New York City to its portfolio. Cemusa worked in partnership with the city of New York to provide street furniture that boasts contemporary, eye-catching design, enhances New York's dynamic street life and features the highest level of quality to face unpredictable weather conditions.
After establishing its North American headquarters in New York City, Cemusa continues to strengthen the city's economy by bringing significant revenue to the city and creating numerous jobs through the use of local vendors for the design, manufacturing, installation and maintenance of the structures. Cemusa is proud to provide New York residents with added safety, security and comfort in public transportation.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Illegal Billboards in NYC
After a lecture by Rami Tabello of Illegalsigns.caand Steve Lambert of The Anti Advertising Agency given at the Eyebeam gallery, I found a new way to vent my frustrations at the public advertising industry. I have spent the last few weeks walking around a few hours a week in search of what I believe to be illegal billboards in NYC. Along with many others, I found this advertisement which was not only illegal but which had been served by the Department of Buildings months prior to me laying eyes on it. I have called the DOB and complained that not only was the sign illegal but that it also had yet to be taken down after the DOB deemed it so. Here is an image of what it looks like and I will post an image of its removal as soon as that happens.
In the words of Rami Tabello, " An incompetent buildings department is just as bad as a corrupt buildings department."
XOOOOX H&M to HIV
I'm not usually one for ad reworking. Despite the fact that the message is flipped, the companies name and logo are often still legible and therefore still impressed upon the viewer. I think most people know that the real message in advertisement has nothing to do with the content and more with its simple recognition and therefore these works would be better served by completely annihilating the advertisement. I put this one up to illustrate that point and cause I'm a sucker for perfection and this piece is pulled off flawlessly.
To coincide with the German fashion week in Berlin, XOOOOX liberated two advertising billboards in Berlin.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Plastic Weave Study
This is a study I did for a piece I was hoping to be able to put up in the public. After completion I realized there was no way I would be able to install it without getting caught considering it took me nearly an hour just to negotiate it into the phone kiosk frame I had at my studio. It has managed to inspire me to work in only white though and get me excited about the concept of having a piece be a simple white wash during the day and then transform once the night comes and the back light is turned on. I will be working with this concept in the near future so stay tuned for more to come.
I'm extremely unhappy with this test but I figured I would put it up anyways. The arrows are far too insignificant in relation to the piece and the target imagery reminds me of the retailer Target's imagery way too much. Oh well. Let's move on.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Verizon Phone Kiosk Key
As usual when I run into a Van Wagner employee replacing phone kiosk advertising in the city, I stop and say hello. I usually ask how they like their job, how they feel about public advertising in general and tell them a little about my project. Often they laugh, I laugh and we both go on our way. I used to also ask if I could purchase the only "key" I don't have in my arsenal, which opens the Verizon new style phone kiosk until I got tired of offering hundreds of dollars in cash to employees clearly unwilling to risk their job over a small profit. This morning I came across an employee who was very forthcoming and who has only been on the job for a month. He was kind enough to tell me he usually sells the posters to people on the street but he would be happy to part with his key for a mere $47 (what I had in my pocket).
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
With Billboards, Cities are facing the digital decision-AAA
This article was taken from the Anti-Advertising Agencies website and highlights the new debate over digital billboard signs around the country.
Ah, for the good old days, when billboards were merely a blight you could avoid, sort of, by averting your eyes.
Now the outdoor advertising companies have us right where they want us: stuck in traffic or at a red light, facing a digital sign that changes about every seven seconds. At least at home, zombied out in front of our televisions, we get a little programming with our digital ads. With digital billboards, we just get ads.
“There’s no mute button, no on-off switch, no changing the station.”
“We’re there 24-7,” Clear Channel Outdoor chief executive Paul Meyer told the Washington Post last year. “There’s no mute button, no on-off switch, no changing the station.”
He says that like it’s a good thing.
And for the billboard industry, it’s a very good thing, as the fast-changing ads are bringing booming profits.But for the rest of us — those who do not own billboard companies or have stock in them or accept money from them to fund our political campaigns — digital billboards represent a significant ratcheting up of the industry’s assault on the American landscape.
Lamar Advertising, which wants to erect a 60-by-20-foot digital sign Downtown, filed for permits to convert 42 billboards around the city — including 10 Downtown — into digital ones, hoping to beat a moratorium imposed by City Council as it considers legislation that would give council a vote on all sign replacements.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl complained that the legislation “created a chaotic position now for us to be in, in that we have to consider 42 LED billboards.” Another way to look at it is that now we all know the scope of Lamar’s digital dream.
From Connecticut to California, digital billboards are becoming an increasingly hot issue as outdoor advertising companies seek to convert existing billboards to digital and erect new ones. State and local governments are struggling with how to regulate this bold new breed.
In September, the Federal Highway Administration gave digital billboards its blessing when it issued a memo stating that they conform to the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, even though the act prohibits flashing, intermittent or moving lights on billboards — and even though the FHA’s study of the safety of digital billboards won’t be completed until next year. States have the last word on whether they want them, though, and so far they’re legal in 38 states.
A bill in the Missouri Senate would allow existing billboards to be converted to digital ones, currently prohibited by the state transportation department. The legislation has rekindled a long-running local battle between outdoor advertisers and scenic advocates, writes the Springfield Business Journal.
Beginning June 1, Texas will allow digital billboards along state highways, even within cities, if municipalities want them. Houston, Dallas and Austin have bans on new billboards, but San Antonio’s city council voted in December to allow 15 digital signs as permanent “experiments,” to the dismay of the San Antonio Conservation Society, Scenic San Antonio, the American Institute of Architects and neighborhood groups. What would Lady Bird think?
With billboard regulations written before the advent of digital signs, cities are looking around to see how other places are regulating them. In Reno, Nev., where digital billboards are not allowed, the planning commission is studying other cities’ ordinances after a proposed change to permit them.
Beaufort County, S.C., banned construction of new billboards 24 years ago, but now Atlanta-based Adams Outdoor Advertising is lobbying it to permit conversion of existing billboards to digital ones.
We want the existing signs gone, not replaced with signs even more garish and distracting.
“Tell them no,” wrote the Island Packet newspaper in an editorial. “We want the existing signs gone, not replaced with signs even more garish and distracting. Let’s preserve some semblance of the Lowcountry aesthetic we cherish.”
In Long Beach, Calif., three neighborhood groups are fighting the construction of six digital billboards along local freeways; each sign would be 40 feet high, with a 30-by-20-foot screen.
The Long Beach City Council’s budget oversight committee endorsed the billboards in January, but council will hold hearings on the proposal in a few weeks. The budget committee has good reason to favor the billboards: Their owner would split the revenue with the city, bringing in an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million annually, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Profit-sharing is just one tactic outdoor advertisers are using to get municipalities to warm to digital signs. They’re also using existing billboards as leverage to reduce their number in exchange for permission to erect digital ones, as Lamar hopes to do here by removing 11 billboards in exchange for the Downtown digital billboard. In San Antonio, twice as much square footage must come down for each digital billboard that goes up.
Other selling points across the country are that the digital billboards can be helpful during Amber Alerts, as “wanted” posters identifying criminal suspects and communicating emergency information during disasters.
Helpful as those may be, such infrequent uses won’t compensate for the powerful negative impact an onslaught of digital billboards will have on the natural landscape and the built environment.
The digital decision is one they don’t have to make in Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont, where all billboards are banned. Pittsburgh’s vistas are every bit as worthy of preservation as theirs.
CBC TV News Coverage of Illegalsigns.ca
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Ron English in London-2008
Consuming Images with Bill Moyers-PBS
This six part series aired on PBS in 1989, but I think its still well worth watching. Professor Stuart Ewen of the CUNY graduate center has some wonderful things to say about advertising culture that echoes much of what he talks about in the three books I have listed on this site.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Fuel Outdoor-Illegal Ads
This article appeared on illegalsigns.ca and should be read by all New Yorkers. It not only heightens the deep distrust I have for the public advertising industry but makes real the lack of respect they have for the city, its government and thus its people.
Fuel Outdoor Builds 324 Illegal Signs in New York City Then Sues New York City
by Rami Tabello
We previously took a look at Fuel Outdoor in Fuel Outdoor - The Dirtiest Billboard Company in America. Fuel Outdoor is expanding nationwide with an aggressive legal strategy that sees them build hundreds of illegal billboards in a city, then sue the city on First Amendment grounds.
In New York City, Fuel is rampant. The problem is, they won their case against Los Angeles in Federal Court because of Los Angeles’ street furniture program, and they are attempting to take that precedent nationwide. Here ares some of the 324 illegal Fuel signs that are popping up all over NYC:
According to the lawsuit that Fuel filed :
-Out of the 360 signs Fuel installed in NYC, 324 are illegal under the NYC sign code. Paragraph 4.
-NYC’s sign code is “stark government hypocrisy” because it doesn’t apply to New York’s street furniture program. Paragraph 1.
-The sign code’s justifications are “blatantly pretextual.” “It is axiomatic that the City cannot infringe on core First Amendment rights when its reasons for doing so are blatantly pretextual especially where, as here, the City’s true motivation is to destroy competition and reserve for itself a monopoly in the outdoor advertising business.” Paragraph 11.
-Fuel should be allowed to operate its panels until a comprehensive sign code is implemented that also applies to street furniture. Paragraph 12.
-Fuel installed signs visible from the sidewalk but inside the walls of parking garages, like the ones in the last photo above. Fuel claims that such signs are not subject to the NYC sign code because they can’t be seen when the parking garage door is down. Page 7, footnote.
-Cemusa’s street furniture contract allows up to 200 scrolling ads. Fuel’s ads don’t scroll. “This provides yet another reason why Cemusa’s bus shelter signs are even more dangerous and unattractive than Fuel’s panel signs allegedly are.” Paragraph 58
-Cemusa’s ads are equipped with Bluetooth technology “that actually enables these signs to detect passing cellular telephones and to send advertisements directly to these passing phones…. Needless to say, the fact that unsuspecting motorists may be bombarded with text message advertisements emanating from nearby bus shelters provides yet another reason why -Cemusa’s bus shelter signs are, if anything, significantly more dangerous and unattractive.”
The City’s scheme for regulating outdoor advertising therefore does not directly advance its purported interest in promoting traffic safety and aesthetics and is therefore unconstitutional.
Here is the whole complaint: [PDF]
According to this letter [PDF], New York City entered into an agreement to stay prosecution against Fuel’s signs pending the outcome of this case. Fuel apparently continued to build new signs, and the agreement does not cover all the Fuel signs in NYC:
The Fuel case is scheduled to be heard in tandem with a case against New York by Clear Channel. More on the Clear Channel case soon.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Zast Berlin Subway TV Takeover
MOMO ad rework
Went to the Eyebeam information session today on how to identify and then go through the proper channels to remove illegal billboards. Aside from that being absolutely amazing and incredibly informative, I finally met a street artist I've wanted to meet for some time, MOMO. Here is an unusual piece of his but one which is in keeping with this sites interests. Visit his website for more of his goodies, I promise its well worth your time.