<body> Public Ad Campaign: ad, graffiti… what’s the difference?
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, February 14, 2009

ad, graffiti… what’s the difference?

VIA under-covered

Posted on by under-covered


Answer: The difference is obviously whose paying for that space in the public eye. In lay terms, money. But in the last few weeks there has been a lot of push-back to renew the debate.

In the last few weeks there has been a flurry of activity around the question of advertising’s role in our environment and who has the right to project messages to the masses.

New York City’s well-known metro ad-altering trickster Poster Boy was caught — but not really. Fact is, there are hundreds of poster boys out there and the police — who arrived at an art opening flagrantly advertising his appearance busted someone and claimed to have captured Mr. Poster Boy himself.

Police in Boston captured a more tangible suspect – Shepard Fairey — when they also arrived at his opening at the Institute of Contemporary Art where a retrospective is being shown in his honor.

In both cases the culprit is actually unknown. It’s anyone’s guess who put up the “obey” signs in Boston — Fairey has been around for so long and accrued such a following that any fledgling anti-addies with a library card or internet access could print out and slap up their own ‘obey’ signs. More obviously, Poster Boy is not one arrest-able citizen but many creative, albeit mischievous, metro-riders who are sick of seeing (on average) 5,000 ads per day… And started talking back.

One cunning blogger is Boston put it well on Universal Hub when she/he wrote,

“The whole point of the ‘Obey’ campaign is that it’s viral; that Fairey himself has no control over who uses the images or where they’re placed.” — Cynic

And, predictably, there’s always the narrative of the peeved cop who wants to keep order and make a show of dragging the ‘bad guy’ in and set an example (or at least frighten the next generation of anti-addies). Instead, in both clunky cases, the police were regarded by the locals as brutes. Party poopers. And as for those young street artists — as one ICA patron put it,

“It makes him even more of a hero to me. The fact that he is arrested for his art shows that it is meaningful to him and he cares about what he is doing.” — Ginny Delany, 27 in the Boston Globe

The meaning of contributing to your environment — to change what you find wrong or unhealthy in your neighborhood — is the catapult for these “viral” images. And the active anti-ad, street art movement (not new, by any means) will further force the question, what are ads and what is graffiti?

Here’s a fitting answer by a couple of New York City artists:

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

      Sharon Zukin
      The Cultures of Cities

      Miriam Greenberg
      Branding New York

      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