Friday, December 26, 2008
In the spirit of giving I went out yesterday and removed approximately 50 different ads from the streets, mostly Van Wagner Phone Kiosks. It's not much, but on the heals of LA getting three new illegal billboards for Christmas, I thought it would be a nice counter gesture.
What Ban? What Moratorium? New Billboards Go Up Alongside Downtown Freeway
Just another case of outdoor advertising companies doing what they want in our public space. If they can so blatantly disregard the law I don't see why I can't do the same thing. the next post will be a response.
As an early Christmas present to the city, a Los Angeles company has put up three full-sized, double-sided billboards alongside the 110 freeway downtown.
Coming on the heels of the city council passage of a three-month moratorium on approvals of new billboards, the structures looming some sixty feet high were not permitted or inspected by the Department of Building and Safety, and were apparently erected over a single weekend.
The company subsequently filed a lawsuit against the city, challenging the constitutionality of its ban on new billboards. Keith Stephens, president of the company, was interviewed on KCET’s recent “Billboard Confidential” and claimed that the city was unfairly discriminating against his company because it had allowed larger companies to put up new billboards and supergraphic signs in special Sign Supplemental Use Districts and as part of community redevelopment agreements.
The multi-ton billboard structures would normally require the submission of structural drawings and calculations, and the foundations for the supporting columns would be inspected for proper depth and steel reinforcement before any concrete was placed. One of the billboards, at 11th and Blaine Streets, appears to be no more than 20 feet from the edge of the freeway.
One of the billboards, at the site of the Plumbers Union Local 78 on James Woods Blvd., is displaying advertising, but the other two have not yet been put into service.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
New Actions And Training
If anything, I've found that a single act of participation can ignite a lifetime of interaction in the public. With that in mind, as well as a large project I am cooking up with PosterBoy, I have realized the need to personally introduce people to the physical act of reclaiming public space. The invisible hand which seems to say that public interaction is off limits to the average citizen, is actually just that, invisible and ultimately non-existent. Once you have committed an act of social rearrangement you realize that you are truly free to do what you want with little to no consequence.
That said, a now friend of mine who we will call John, asked me how he could do his own public billboard advertisements illegally. I having never actually changed a billboard and thought the first step would be getting our hands dirty, realizing that with a little bit of fearlessness and the right tools you can pretty much do anything. We set out last Monday afternoon to tackle three of my favorite public advertising venues for takeover, public phone kiosks, NPA outdoor street level billboards, and subway platform advertisements. I produced two phone kiosk pieces, two subway platform pieces, and prepared the paint for two NPA outdoor ad removals.
The first thing we did was paint over the NPA ads, which John was slightly nervous about but finished without hesitation. The next ad we hit was a phone kiosk which he removed without batting an eye and on the downtown side of oncoming traffic. I explained that it was slightly more dangerous because a cop car driving up the street would be much more likely to stop him. He scoffed at the idea and removed the ad with me watching out. The last was the subway platform ads which he refused to do because it was mid afternoon. This was not such a bad call on his part because subway platforms are much less crowded late at night and you are less likely to see police. Nonetheless I showed him how it could be done and in the future I'm sure John would have no problem attempting this on his own.
If anyone has any interest in running through the gauntlet, I am more than happy to provide the tools and materials for a fun afternoon on the streets.
Two different phone kiosk pieces, one posted by each of us
(detail of first)
NPA outdoor site we both painted over
Subway platform install which I did and John filmed
Subway Platform detail
Subway Window Ads Alarm Some Riders
The fact that this is all being promoted under the guise that it is to cut down on Scratchiti is a little perplexing.
By Jennifer 8. Lee Via The New York Times City Room.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority continues to find new ways to rent its subway real estate to advertisers. Joining the tunnels, station stairs, columns, subway insides, subway outsides, station turnstiles: subway windows.
Coca-Cola ads are placed over the windows of subway cars in a pilot program to discourage scratched graffiti. (Photo: New York City Transit)
As Gothamist pointed out last week, red Coca-Cola ads are now covering a number of subway windows, as part of a 30-day pilot program. They are being used on a single eight-car A train where four of the cars have ads covering their large windows (though not their door panes). None of the windows on the other four cars are covered.
Despite the M.T.A. budget shortfall, transit officials say that advertising revenue is not the main motivation for the program. Instead, the sprawling ads have a practical purpose. The first is to reduce what officials call “scratchiti,” or scratched graffiti on the windows.
Scratchiti has become more popular over the past decade as more cleaning agents were developed to fight traditional graffiti. Scrachitti is a major vandalism problem in the subways, costing the system more than $2.5 million a year to replace the glass and covering it with protective Mylar. One man was arrested last month for scratchitti after he was caught in the act by a cameraphone.
Paul J. Fleuranges, a spokesman for New York City Transit, said the agency hoped that the film, called Scotchcal, would cut down on the frequency of scratchitti. The vinyl graphic film, made by 3M, is widely used to wrap buses, because a it allows a full image to be printed on the outside, while the little perforated holes allows people (in theory) to look outside.
The other benefit transit officials are hoping for is that the film will save on energy costs, as the covered windows reduce the amount of hot sun that enters subway cars.
“The car equipment people have for a long time sought to use tinted windows in an attempt to cut down on that ’sun soak’ effect; just like tinted windows reduce the warmth of the sun on a passenger vehicle and help keep the car cooler and assist in the A.C. cooling the car more efficiently,” Mr. Fleuranges wrote in an e-mail message.
Of course, this aspect of the pilot, given that it is December, will be harder to test.
Mr. Fleuranges said the pilot program is actually free to the M.T.A., because Coca-Cola paid for the ads, and CBS Outdoor, which handles subway advertising, threw in the labor.
This Coca-Cola window ad campaign — which started last week — has caught the attention of bloggers, and at least one rider wrote an alarmed letter to the M.T.A. (Others have ranted about the decrease in light in the cars.)
And because you can see out of the windows but not necessarily into the car, a number of people have pointed out the potential security hazards. It seems like a fertile place to get mugged if you are the only one in a subway car late at night. How will the police know to rescue you?
Mr. Fleuranges said that the Police Department’s transit bureau had been involved in pre-pilot discussions and had viewed the material after it was applied. An e-mail message to the Police Department on the topic has not yet been returned.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Who Is This?
As I exited the John and Lispanard Street ACE train exit, I found what I think is some artists handiwork. If this is artwork, it was done very professionally, using adhesive backed vinyl printing and made to size accordingly. What makes me think this is artwork is the sample I removed which is slightly different material than the rest of the ads in the subway system. If someone is aware of who this work is done by, please contact me. I would love to get in touch.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Pop Down Project
Though this project does not get rid of urban blight, the comment is so clear I had to post it. should we not, just like on the internet, have the right to prevent ourselves from viewing ad content in the public? It has been said that the world of social networking and communication via the internet is the next form of public space or the next democratic public forum. If we reserve the right to censor ourselves from advertising in this medium, should we not do the same for the old tried and true public forum, our city streets?
from Urban Prankster Charlie Todd
The Pop_Down Project offers an alternative to the “pop up” advertising we encounter on the streets. They write:
On the Internet, getting rid of unsolicited pop-ups is pretty easy. In real life, things are a tad more complicated. The Pop_Down Project aims at symbolically restoring everyone’s right to non-exposure: Just stick a “Close window” button on any public space pollution.Head to the site to download the template and start sticking yourself.