Thursday, May 28, 2009
I was made aware of Zevs' updated site through a recent Wooster Collective post. I didn't realize he had hit so much outdoor advertising. As per usual, the work which removes the ad as opposed to working over it, is my favorite.
Posterchild Weighs in on the World
Every so often, there is someone who I want to know more about. I ask them some questions and they answer them in the typical fashion. Sometimes I get great stuff, sometimes not. Other times I get detailed descriptions of how to change the world we live in and it floors me. Thank you so much to Posterchild for having the vision and the words to fully explain yourself.
Why do you create work in the public?
Man, that should be easier to answer than it is. I think maybe this
question was easier to answer when I was younger and just starting.
Full of manifestos and bluster and whatnot. Now there are so many more
caveats and complications and doubts. Or maybe they’ve always been
there, but they’ve had time to grow. ANYWAY, In brief, I work in the
public, because that’s where PEOPLE are. I want to connect and
communicate. The street is the first -maybe best- place to do that.
Why do you create work over/using outdoor advertising?
Because that’s what already in the public. It’s extremely aggressive,
everywhere, and often illegal. I throw my own 2 cents into the mob,
and I don’t see that as being particularily worse ( any more “illegal”
or immoral) than what these groups are doing already. In fact, I think
it’s much better. But is that two wrongs?
Tell us something about where you live and your relationship to your city.
I live in Toronto, and it is the greatest city and the worst city. I
love it. But I’m often frustrated by it. I feel like it has so much
potential and so many people working towards bettering it. Toronto has
been unusually blessed with a very large number of people who care so
deeply about it and work so passionately for it. We love the TTC even
though it’s underfunded, overcrowded, and runs despiteful, adversarial
ads that frame us and treat us like criminals.
How would you describe your relationship with advertising?
Complex. Advertising informs so much of what I do. Advertising is at
the core of graffiti and street art. Advertising is the genisis for
modern graffiti. Advertising begat graffiti which begat street art,
which both beget more advertising. I’ve never claimed to be a culture
jammer or ad buster. I don’t exist soley in opposition to
advertisting, and if it were to sweept off our street tomorrow, I’d
still be doing my thing out there. But advertising feeds me. It
provides near guilt-free surfaces to create work on. Many a discarded
box of wildposting posters has had their contents become a stencil or
a poster. I love to literally “Flip” and ad, and make my own work on
the back. It’s weird. I dislike advertising, but I’m disapointed when
I find a video billboard has been removed because it is the required
surface for creating art on, for creating my art with, and it is now
gone, you know? True, I just need to walk a few blocks to find a new
one, but still, working with advertising has made ads an interegal,
needed element of those artworks, and that can create a weird,
Having done both, is there a difference between working in Toronto or New York?
Yes. Many. I’ll need to do more work on NY before I’m ready to draw
clear distinctions. But there are differences to be sure. Every city
is different. You need to really get to know a city- you need a
healthier, stronger realationship with the city than I have with NY
before you can really work successfully- that is, like an insightful,
engaged local- within the cities space. You can still make work -good
work- without that engagement, but I think it could have a “tourist”
feel to locals.
Tell us one of your favorite moments working on the street.
Hmm. Maybe when a drunk dude came and used his drunken strength to
help TEETH and I get these heavy sheets of particle board in place so
I could screw them into the lil’ billboard we were taking over.
If you could run a fantasy camp, what would it be?
Oh man. I guess I would run a camp for city commuters. I would make
all the car drivers ride bikes. You would have to surrender your keys
when you entered the camp. There would be a week of lessons (including
classes on bike maintenance and repair) and practice and fun rides
around the city and it’s parks. There would be history tours and
architecture tours and street art/graffiti tours and food tours and
other themed tours- campers could sign up for whatever tours sounded
interesting to them! And when the week is up, then it’s back to work-
but we keep your keys! After another week, you’d get your car keys
back at a reunion where everyone could share war stories of their week
of bike commuting, have drinks, and cement friendships! The camp would
provide bikes for anyone who wanted to take the camp, but couldn’t
afford it, and provide safe rides home after the reunion party for
anyone unfit to ride a bike or drive a car. We would form partnerships
with city politicians and corporate leaders, encouraging corporate and
civic groups of campers- and use funds (and awareness) raised by the
camp to push for more tax dollars for bike lanes, lockups, and
infrastructure, and less tax money going to support car culture.
Hell, that sounds good. Lets do it.
Instructional Video First Responder
A while back someone had some questions regarding the phone kiosk instructional video. There is nothing that makes me happier than being able to facilitate someone's direct interaction with their public space. This is all the more exciting when that individual decides to do that interacting over public advertising. I think this is the first example of someone who put the instructional video to good use. Enjoy, I know I am. Now get that cheese.....
Debunkers collective- Let’s disobey !
If this isn't a fantastic argument for the reduction of advertising in our public spaces, I don't know what is. More available at the Debunkers Collective.
In terms of advertising, billboards constitute the greatest and oldest aggression and one that no one can avoid. We are free to watch or not to watch TV, to listen or not to listen to the radio, to buy or not to buy a newspaper, but not to move freely without being confronted with a never-ending show of images and slogans. This visual debauchery impairs our view and our perception of traffic signals. It dirties our living space, reduces our freedom of thought and limits our capacity to dream. The confiscation of public space and its commercial exploitation are all the more inadmissible as the landscapes are by law considered “public goods of the nation” and the rules concerning advertising are part of the 5th chapter of the French “Code de l’environnement”, entitled : “Prevention of pollution, risk and nuisance”. Regarding billboards, the advertising system enters our daily lives in the most obvious fashion. By attacking billboard advertising using non-violent direct action, we are making a first inroad into the advertising system and responding to its aggression. All the more as advertising posters are in easy reach !
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Digital Bus Advertisement Video
Inwindow Map Begins
InWindow street level storefront billboards are popping up everywhere. I have made a few posts over the past few months, the most recent involving Steve Lambert's letter to the NY Times after they fail to have anything important to say about the burgeoning illegal business. Just yesterday I found this new addition on 14th street between 8th and 9th avenues. As per usual there is no permit on the DOB website and it is starting to irritate my sensitive demeanor. I decided to start cataloging them in a simple Google Map. If you see ads like these in the windows of your recently closed local shops, chances are they are InWindow's doing. Please take a picture, record the address and send them my way. I will add them to the map and hopefully in a short time we will have a better idea of how fast these locations are proliferating.
This map will also be readily available on the right hand sidebar, along with several other maps which have also been made available.
Sean Woosley's Appropriated Poster Campaign
VIA Wooster Collective
Sean Woosley has the to say about a recent bus stop poster appropriation campaign he is working on.
Below is a series of appropriated posters that I painted over and reinstalled into bus stops. These are the first posters to hit the streets in an ongoing experimental campaign to raise cognitive awareness and more importantly to inspire benevolent action that we often forget, oversee, or might be in opposition to our often hedonistic culture. These first batch of posters can be found in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. More to come. Many more.It's always wonderful to see artists reclaiming public space, especially those message boards which have hijacked our shared spaces to promote private commercial concerns.[More Images Here]
Jake Price Image from NYSAT Project
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Outdoor Advertising Assoiation of America-Self Service
The OAAA, or Outdoor Advertising Association of America, is an organization "Working to promote, protect and advance the outdoor advertising industry".
One of the things the OAAA does, is provide its members with Public Service Announcements like the one pictured above. [More Here] These designs are available in almost every imaginable size for every imaginable advertising frame and venue across the united states. Everything from phone kiosks to billboards are available as PDF downloads. The OAAA encourages their members to use these free PSA's when they have empty space and or are trying to fill some PSA quota. Here is what they say about their recent campaign.
Recession 101 is the latest public service campaign available to OAAA members. OAAA members and printers are encouraged to donate space and materials to post this uplifting and inspirational creative in their markets.While most PSA's are for non-profit and charitable institutions, this recent campaign seems oddly self serving. I know the country is failing and the whole world is falling apart as stories begin to unfold. The advertising industry isn't exempt, and is going through notoriously bad times as companies cut non-essential spending rapidly. To me the these ads look like pleas to corporate America. They ask companies to get back in the game and continue spending absurd amounts of money on promotion instead of building tangible worth. A proper PSA would propose fiscal policies which will help us get out of this current slump as opposed to making light of the problem we are facing.
This is what the OAAA has to say about themselves.
The OAAA is the lead trade association representing the outdoor advertising industry. Founded in 1891, the OAAA is dedicated to promoting, protecting and advancing outdoor advertising interests in the US. With nearly 1,100 member companies, the OAAA represents more than 90 percent of industry revenues.There are five main OAAA membership categories:
London Tube in 2050
[Image: "Above Ground" by Nils Norman, commissioned by Platform for Art for Transport for London; view it as a 2.6MB PDF].
A recent post from the BLDG blog was sent my way by a good friend. Seems like Nils Norman created the above poster depicting alternative visions of the London subway system in 2050. The poster was then intermingled with the "...mobile phone advertisements, travel insurance offers, and posters for English-language schools." that normally adorn The Tube. Steve Lambert & Packard Jennings did something very similar in 2007 for San Francisco. Both projects are a wonderful escape from the typical mind altering brand imagery you are normally presented with on your way to work.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Maybe They Put it Back Just to Piss Me Off
17th street & 9th avenue (May 2009)
When I posted about the corner of 17th and 9th avenue a while back, it provoked some interesting comments. It was the first time I had seen an NPA City Outdoor ad frame removed, and was a nice example of how truly un-permanent all of the advertising in our city is, despite it often feeling the contrary. Sure enough I walked by this corner yesterday and was greeted by this slightly smaller version of the same old thing.
Friday, May 22, 2009
NYC Building Code - NPA City Outdoor
Looks like someone else isn't all that happy with NPA City Outdoor either. In fact the reader seems to think the recent NPA ploy to turn their illegal third party signs into legal first party signs doesn't hold up when you look at the building code and definitions of what an OAC (Outdoor Advertising Company) is. Indicting the company on several counts of unlawful activity and operation procedures, they write...
I have extensive knowledge with the building code and zoning resolution of NYC.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Frequent Reader Questions
I just received this email and wanted wish the person who sent it luck. This is what PublicAdCampaign is ultimately about for me. Promoting and facilitating the public's interest and involvement in their public space. Though this happens through the use of outdoor advertising venues and frames, it is about enjoying the act of creation in our shared public spaces.
Hi Jordan, I am a frequent reader of public access campaign, and enjoy reading your posts
This is My Responses:
Fantastic! You should absolutely try it yourself. It is a wonderful way to spend an evening or afternoon becoming a more integral part of your city fabric. Please send me the results and I will post them immediately.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Digital Advertising On NYC Buses at Night
Now tell me it wouldn't be distracting if you were sitting eye level to this in a car. Your pupils would shrink down so small trying to filter out all that extra light, you might as well close your eyes, hit the gas, and hope for the best.
NPA City Outdoor & The Gourmet Deli
Recently, the above signs have begun appearing on NPA City Outdoor advertising locations around the city. I reported on them a while back because they are an interesting way for NPA to try to convert their illegal 3rd party signs into legal 1st party signage. The last post explains this in more depth, but basically associating the advertising posters outside with the actual business that operates at these locations is the intention. I have approached several deli owners whose businesses sport these atrocities, and I was able to gather some interesting information.
Starting in June, building owners, or business owners will enter into a business partnership with NPA City Outdoor. In doing so they will make a raffle box and raffle tickets readily available to anyone who might want to enter to win advertising posters. Cause who doesn't want ads for the Freelancers Union adorning their apartment? For this, the business will be paid $50.00 per month. This extra perk is on top of the fee paid to the property owner or business owner for the placement of the frames which hold the advertising copy. Having talked to NPA about these fees, as well as business owners, I was under the impression NPA paid much more to litter our city with ad content. The owner of the Gourmet Deli tells me he receives $120.00 for the two frames seen below.
This is yet another incredibly adept way of circumnavigating the law and as those concerned with the abuse of our public environment, we must manufacture equally serious ways of combating this new tactic. I will be putting on my thinking cap and will report any strokes of genius if they come. Until then, please leave your suggestions below. Also remember, it is very possible NPA will not actually be holding raffles at all.
Inflatable Supergraphics: Part of McDonalds Ad Blitz for Upscale Coffee Drinks
VIA Ban Billboard Blight
The building previously sported a supergraphic ad for designer jeans, which wasn’t removed, but covered up by the faux brick of the McCafe sign. Last year, the company that installed the ads, World Wide Rush, got an injunction from a U.S. District Court Judge barring the city from enforcing its ban on supergraphic ads at the location.
According to an advertising industry publication, McDonalds spent $825 million last year on advertising on TV, radio, the internet and billboards and other outdoor advertising venues. To tell McDonalds (for whatever its worth) what you think of their marketing campaign, click here.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
InWindow Doesn't Listen to You or the City
I've posted a bunch about Inwindow outdoor advertising because they are tearing through the city at the same incredible rate that storefront businesses are going under. All of their success, wonderfully critiqued by Steve Lambert, is happening on false pretenses. In fact they are operating completely illegally and doing so brazenly. Take for example 936 Broadway. This location originally held a giant illegal Western Union advertisement. The building was issued a stop work order by the DOB for an "OAC SIGN ON DISPLAY WITHOUT A PERMIT" due to multiple complaints, including #1250745. Despite this, today I walked by 936 Broadway and the copy has changed to the above Intel advertisement.
Since 3-10-09 until this moment, there has been a stop work order on the property and this means there should be no work being done until that stop work order is resolved. Yet the copy has miraculously changed. Inwindow is operating brazenly indeed, and is fully ignoring the city and it's wishes. I am perplexed by this, partially because it is standard operating procedure when it comes to advertising and the city, and partially cause I don't really know how to deal with it. I want to call the sign enforcement unit, but I'm sure they already know. In fact they are probably embroiled in some absurd legal battle that prevents them from stopping Inwindow from changing the ad copy.
I said it before and I'll say it again; when the city can't demand what the the law expects, who is the city serving?
Saturday, May 16, 2009
We Tow Your Ad ~ Your Business Booms
Coastal Ads will take advantage of you at the beach. Seriously?
"That’s exactly right. Using a brand new, large-format floating billboard, Coastal Ad’s pulls your message up and down the packed, Ocean City beach-line. Imagine your message slowly passing back and forth on a beautiful summer day, in front of thousands and thousands of impressionable beach goers with money to spend…"
NYSAT Project Map Now Public
[FULL INTERACTIVE MAP HERE]
It's been three weeks since the NYSAT project took place on April 25th. I am just now making the project map public. In an attempt to build a coherent vision of what took place the 25th, this map offers images of 189 NPA city Outdoor advertising locations. Of those 189, nearly 130 show their progression from illegal ad locations, to whitewashed messaging boards, to artworks and communications created by concerned public individuals. The project, Lasting not much more than 24hrs, covered nearly 19,000 square feet of illegal advertising. Responses ranged in emotion, but were abundantly positive and often expressed interest in repeating the project.
To all of those who participated, I hope you had as much fun as I did. I hope you came away empowered to use your communications to envision alternative uses of our shared public spaces. I hope to work with you again in the future.
El Capitan Theater: More Defacement of Historic Hollywood Buildings by Supergraphic Signs
VIA Ban Billboard Blight
The El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Blvd. opened in 1926, and was the site of many star-studded events, including the world premiere of “Citizen Kane” in 1941. It later fell on hard times, but in the late Eighties the Walt Disney Co. and Pacific Theaters teamed up to do a complete restoration, and it has since been the venue for premieres of Disney feature films.
The theater, built by the same real estate developer who built the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the Chinese Theater, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And like the hotel, also a registered historic landmark, the building has been draped with a huge supergraphic sign that obscures much of its architecture.
The owners of the hotel, just down the street from the theater, and the sign company, In Plain Sight Media, recently sued the city seeking the right to keep the unpermitted supergraphic sign in place. More on Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
The owners of the El Capitan theater donated a “conservation easement” to the Los Angeles Conservancy, which is essentially an agreement not to make any exterior modifications to the building that don’t meet historic preservation standards. This easement is considered a charitable donation, and is typically used by owners of historic properties to claim significant tax deductions.
Friday, May 15, 2009
PosterChild Was in Town and I Didn't Talk to Him Long Enough
PosterChild collaborated on the NYSAT project, coming all the way down from Canada to participate. He just sent me these videos and it made me realize I had a chance to talk to this guy and I didn't take full advantage of the opportunity. The more I see of his work, the more I like what I see. It's a serious playful good time and I love it.
Fresh Stuff From Aakash Nihalani
Aakash Nihalani's work is about participation and interaction. The simple use of the box, I've been told, is about calling out all of the other things in the environment that go unnoticed using a single visual device. It's simple and genious and often extremely successful. This project is a fabulous example of his work at its best.
"I saw that post about what people are passionate about, and I wanted to share a project I was very grateful to be involved with. Yesterday, ACNY invited me to do some installations at A Better Place, a permanent housing program in New York City for homeless men and women living with HIV/AIDS. I wasn't sure how willing the residents were to participate, but their cautions, and my timidity, quickly diminished once we started taping. By the end of the afternoon, they were all coming up with great suggestions on how to interact with their environment; each wanting to pose next to the pieces they helped create."You can see more of Aakash's work here.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Art attacked! State park cops reuglify DUMBO building
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
NY storefront hosts the first no-glasses 3D LCD ad
Wooster In The White House - An Explanation
It’s amazing how times change.
When Sara and I started the Wooster Collective eight years ago, it felt to us at the time that the ONLY lens the media was providing as a way into understanding street art and graffiti was vandalism. As a gatekeeper, mass media’s control of what was being said about graffiti and street art made it impossible for most people to appreciate the positive role that it can play in our lives. The media had shut out, and refused to amplify, any diversity of thought. And because of this, graffiti has never been recognized by mainstream society as an “important” art movement. Even though it’s in every city in the world.
We want this to change.
The great thing about the Internet, as we all know, is that no media company or city government controls it. Any of us, including two people who happen to live on Wooster Street, can become a media entity. All they need is a point-of-view. By simply celebrating unauthorized acts of public art when it seemed nobody else was - and then having people spread the positive message it sends - Wooster, by happenstance, has in essence become a media entity.
As the popularity of the Wooster website started to grow, and we began meeting other people who felt the same way as we did, it quickly became clear to us that MANY people understood that graffiti and street art was not about just about vandalism. But rather, that it raises important issues about the need to reclaim our public space; the need for us to affirm our existence on this planet by writing on walls; the need and importance of spontaneous acts of creativity to make our cities more “livable”. And so, so much more.
So last month when we received an invitation to attend a briefing at The White House (yes, that one), we were at first a bit shocked, definitely skeptical, and finally, after giving it a lot of thought - absolutely delighted. To be included in the conversation at the level of The White House, we felt, was a huge testament that our voice (meaning our collective voice) was being heard.
Yesterday, along with about sixty amazing organizations who are committed to grassroots arts initiatives, we met with various officials in the Obama Administration, to listen and learn what the administration was thinking in regards to the Arts, to ask questions, and then to participate in working sessions on issues that we felt passionate about. (Ours was the need to better understand the issues around public and private space)
We know that a lot of people will hate us for going to The White House. But for us, the goal of attending the meetings yesterday was not to attempt to “partner” with government on anything. Or to ask for their acceptance. The power of street art is that you don’t ask for, nor need, permission. At best, it’s about tolerance and understanding.
For us, we felt the issues related to the disappearance of common access to our public space and the need for a deeper understanding of what is and what is not “art” should not be limited to those who read blogs – especially ours. Talking solely to “the converted” will get you only so far. We learned a while back that when you have a chance to sit at the table you take it. Even if those around the table are not people you fully trust.
So all of this is to say that we felt that by going to meet with officials in the new Obama Administration we were representing not us, but all of you. It wasn’t about stroking our ego or having a photo-op with the President (which didn’t happen). It was about letting people who make decisions at the highest level know that the definition of what "art" is needs to change in our society. If art is "over there" and health and science and transportation is “over here" - then art will always be something that is perceived as elitist, misunderstood, undervalued, etc. It will always be something that is only found in museums and in galleries, not put on our streets and on our walls with the artist taking the risk of getting arrested.
Again - our definitions need to change. An we think Obama can do that. At the very least he can start to move the needle forward.
The amazing thing we found out yesterday is that there are people working directly for Obama who get it. We know this not from what they said, but from the diversity of their backgrounds.
Yes, there are indeed graffiti artists working in The White House
On Monday, when we told a friend that we were heading down to Washington to participate in these meetings, he said - “That what I voted for!”
We felt the same way.
And that's why we went to the White House.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
InWindow Outdoor Gets in Your Face
Inwindow Outdoor advertising is responsible for the newest and most objectionable form of billboard our metropolitan environment now faces. They run illegal street level signs which occupy the windows and facades of storefronts recently vacated by yet another business failure. We reported on them a while back and now have been given renewed interest by a recent article in the New York Times.
Steve Lambert makes his opinions clear in a letter he just posted on the AAA site. In it he questions the New York Times' reporting strategies, saying "The Times is mistaken in reporting on this as a “thriving” type of advertising emerging from declining economy. Call it what it is, advertisers desperate for profits, committing organized crime, and hurting the livability of our city." I couldn't agree more.
Here is what Inwindow Outdoor has to say about it's activities:
"Own the Streets
Augor on Painting Illegal Billboards in LA
Too Tall Jahmal and Augor sound off about graffiti's usage of public space and particularly in relation to illegal billboard signage in LA. Jahmal says "The billbaords in my mind, inspired graffiti...it's only natural for a kid to go, 'Hey, I wanna logo too'". And the result is the liberation of these private billboards, brand locations and logo placeholders, by the very graffiti that they inspired. Fantastic.
If the Laws Aren't Enforced, Who Cares What The Laws Are?
This article from the NYCity NewsService, is about a bill being proposed to New York City which would legalize the now illegal practice called sniping. "The bill, proposed Council member Melinda Katz (D-Queens), would legalize advertising on construction sheds that cover sidewalks when buildings undergo exterior construction."
Sniping, or Wildposting, despite being illegal, is carried out on a daily basis by NPA City Outdoor and is happening while you read this. In fact, if you visit NPA's website, they will explain to you the different levels of sniping they offer, including Traditional Wildposting, Dedicated Locations, Dedicated Spectaculars, and City Wide Domination Buys. I find the language they use incredibly offensive and quite amazing. The last thing we want as a public are ads, "dominating" the city, and yet that is what is proposed.
Does no one realize that a law dedicated to preventing Wildposting does not matter and an article about whether the law will disappear in favor of outdoor advertising's abuse of public space is a completely moot point? If we see Wildposting all over the city on every surface, construction sites included, and the company doing the work is vocal about its practices, then for all intents and purposes these ads are not illegal to begin with. Clearly the city already condones this behavior.
I know having laws on the books criminalizing Wildposting activities would help us to combat the issue, if ever we decided it was time to clean the visual blight off our city streets. I get that. I cannot help but continue to see the law as a rouse crafted to appease the public while gifting the outdoor advertising industry full use of our public environment. This is especially true in light of the fact that 4 people were arrested by the NYPD, during the NYSAT project this last April. These individuals were trying to highlight the fact that NPA was operating illegally in our city and that our current law should allow the city to do something about it. Instead of being listened to these individuals spent the weekend in jail.
When laws are so blatantly disregarded by all parties involved, maybe they were never laws at all.
The Profitable Nature of Wooster Collective?
This post is meant for anyone who has followed Wooster for any of the past 6 years, or anyone who has been lucky enough to enjoy the unwavering force that is Marc & Sara of the Wooster Collective. It is also response to an article on Indy Media entitled "Commercial strategies of the Wooster Collective; appropriating a subculture for 5 years strong." I cannot say I do not in many ways agree with them, I can say I know Marc and Sara and they are well intentioned visionaries.
I have always looked down upon street artists that fail to see, and embrace, the political nature of their work. Often I am critical of those who have profited from the pursuit of commercially viable ways for their original ideas to exist. I gaze with simple eyes, desperate for the pursuit of truth and idealism. Along side this sits a quiet jealousy I rarely reveal. It is something I continually grapple with, and in the end something I continue to come back to in my analysis of street art works. I know artists must make a living off their work, but the sacrifice of ones ideas is not an acceptable way to strive for artistic greatness.
Street art, illegal public art, whatever you want to call it, holds an ideological promise far greater than other art practices for me. It has at the heart of its process a philosophy and determination greater than most studio arts. It is inherently a political act and is closer to protest than decoration as far as I'm concerned. If art is to fulfill its role as activism and provide anything worthwhile to society, it must challenge ideas and not merely postulate aesthetic values.
I began my street art career, naively, at the end of the year 2000. I was at best seeking stable footing for what I was doing as an artist at that time. I desperately attempted to make sense of the actions I was taking and the politics I was slowly trying to define. I found Wooster Collective early in my career, and their support as early as 2003 was invaluable. I have never seen eye to eye with Marc & Sara. The art movement they saw, and helped define, was never something I fully understood, yet it was always an inspiration.
Yes they have parlayed their incredible thirst for street art into a viable business that has supported them, as well as the artists who have been lucky enough to benefit from their foresight. Yes this may be sacrificial to a select few and their definition of public projects, as well as the purity they wish to attribute to the street art movement, but let us not forget, as I have not forgotten, that we are not all in this for the same reason.
My ideas could never have surfaced without graffiti, street art, the publicly absurd, and the random happenings so joyously created by all the artistic misfits in this world. Despite my ignorance of those before me, my access to what I consider incredibly deep felt street work, was largely made possible by the history Wooster created.
I despise Wooster for moving beyond the simple initial act of placing images amongst us, and yet I commend them for daring to present us with those initial images that allowed us all to look in the same direction. We don't need to revere Wooster as the definition of truth within the street art movement; in fact it would be a foolish move. But we need to respect Marc & Sara for audaciously building the archive of public communication that was the result of their simple interest in the writing that a rare few decided was worthy of the walls.
This is what I am reacting to....
VIA Indy Media
Commercial strategies of the Wooster Collective; appropriating a subculture for 5 years strong.
This article is in response to the show put on by the Wooster Collective this weekend at 11 Spring Street St.
The Shill of Marc Schiller or
A little background info on the Wooster CollectiveDownload Article (PDF) Add to PDF Compilation Download PDF Compilation Email Article
Marc Schiller, Wooster Collective's co-founder, is the CEO for an advertising corporation. His company, ElectricArtists, works with other corporations including Warner Bros., Microsoft, and CNN.
The following is a description copied and pasted directly from the ElectricArtists website:
ElectricArtists is an innovative marketing services company that
develops and implements unique "community based" marketing campaigns.
Led by a team of seasoned marketing executives, ElectricArtists
fosters and nurtures relationships with a client's most influential
audience by providing the tastemakers with brand information that
triggers consumers talking to each other and spreading the word. Since
1997 ElectricArtists has seen 100% growth in PROFITS EACH YEAR while
serving a diverse list of blue chip clients in the global media and
entertainment sectors including Ralston-Purina, Levis, Sony Pictures,
and BMG Entertainment. ElectricArtists success has been given
extensive media coverage with features in Forbes, Time, Billboard,
Variety, ABC's World News Tonight, and others. The company has
expanded FROM its New York base with offices in Japan and England,
thus enabling ElectricArtists to develop and deliver GLOBAL MARKETING
By targeting the "ideal customers" and providing exciting brand
messages, from behind-the-scenes news to downloadable samples,
ElectricArtists converts fans into loyalists and ultimately, into
advocates. Meanwhile, clients gain valuable market research insight
and honest consumer feedback. EA manages the trust and credibility of
your brand so that your message is heard and believed above the
clutter. Yet, the success of our strategies has everything to do with
you. ElectricArtists considers our efforts part of the bigger
marketing picture-if the other marketing pistons are firing, our
efforts will be considerably more effective.
"Too much "space" in our urban cities is sold to advertisers and large
corporations. Street artists are trying to reclaim a bit of their
space, even if it means doing it without the approval of the people
who control that space."
Marc Schiller, co-founder of Wooster Collective
I mean it is just kind of incredible that so many graffiti artists and street artists
have gathered together to get on board with this man. On the one hand it makes loads of commercial sense to align yrself with Wooster, but how can it be considered in the vain of graffiti, or street art or anything but a marketing strategy?
Unless we think of the street artist as a
self-interested paranoiac who wants to be seen (but not seen) plastering the streets
with their wares. Who naively enters the market disgruntled by the value of production only to turn around and produce themselves. A somnambulist is a person who is too
awake in the morning to put on a McDonald's hat, but too asleep by the afternoon to stop flipping
Street and graffiti artists you are smart enough to feel disturbed
and want to change the commercialism of yr city, but you have
becomes beauticians in a competition with capital. If you do well you will be paid with the whip of laughter with murder on a garbage heap. Selling a look.
This is the recipe to extract profit.
Collectors, museums and street art vendors make money off playing the
art market with you. Of course a good collector will do their best to promote
their artist(s). Selling their look to prestigious corporations and collectors, exposing their work on a global level with a website will get the largest return value for the collector. A huge show.
If you bought into Marc Schiller's New York Times article, or the 7 step premiss, you have been sold more than just a paper.
The underground is important, you are important. This, look around, is the life blood of capital; where
the collector's money places bets; markers in a horse race, be new, and above the pace, you will pay off -- if not in the short term, in the longer term investment.
Magazines, books, T-shirts, stickers, curated gallery shows, over the Internet, in museums, or
through private purchase, the art needs to be bought and the artist sold. But everywhere it
is the same and the pockets bulge.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Station Domination Reports For The TTC
I just googled "station-domination", a term used to reference when advertising takes over a train station in a metropolitan subway transportation system. The second hit was of of Joe Clark's website www.joeclark.org. It is an assessment of Toronto's reports over the past few years on the effectiveness and general user support for station-domination in the Toronoto subway system. Doesn't seem like they had any reason to go forward with implementing the use of station domination and yet it seems they did. [The truth about station-domination advertising in the TTC]
"More people are opposed to station domination. When asked the question “If the TTC were to allow advertising on the floors, ceilings, and pillars of subway stations, would you be” in favour or opposed? 43% were opposed, while only 39% were in favour. 15% didn’t care. 3% would have to see the ads first."
According to the Toronto Star, When People See Dan Bergeron in the Street, They Seethe and Stomp Away in Disdain
This post comes from Rami Tabello of Toronto's illegalsigns.ca. The long story short is Fauxreel, or Dan Bergeron was active in Canada as a street artist and then produced an ad campaign for Vespa that was almost indistinguishable from his personal street work.
Support comes from the public as well. On Queen Street West, a passing cyclist hears Mr. Tabello talking about billboards and stops to congratulate him on his efforts.
“Commercial activity or captivity?” by Susan Krashinsky, The Globe and Mail, June 2, 2008
We covered the Fauxreel sellout issue before, namely in Fauxreel Sold Out For Real where we noted that Dan Bergeron’s fellow street artists had a thing or two to say about his decision to become a blatant criminal shill for Vespa. The issue was also covered by Torontoist and by Anne Elizabeth Moore.
The Toronto Star has now written an interesting article about Bergeron. First, Bergeron uses the opportunity to piss on his critics:
Not long after being outed, one of Bergeron’s personal pieces, a woman in profile with a gravity-defying mohawk pasted up near Dufferin St., had scrawled on it the street-art equivalent of a scarlet letter: “SOLD OUT FOR REAL.”
Bergeron shrugs off the debate as juvenile. “Some people feel like they have to have a certain reaction if something is commercial – because they’re too cool,” he says.
Then this remarkable tidbit from the end of the story:
Bergeron squats low, pasting the boots of his subject to the wall on Dowling St., when a young woman crosses the street and beelines towards him. “I just wanted to come up to congratulate you,” she says. “I’ve seen this all over. It really makes a statement.”
Bergeron quietly thanks her and turns back to his paste, when a young man in a fedora and cargo shorts approaches. “Is that the same ad for the scooters?” he says, glaring. Bergeron just smiles. “Yeah, man. It is,” he says. The man stares, seething, and stomps away. Bergeron slathers the last of his paste on the image’s toes, and moves on to the next.
Actually, some people feel like they have to have a certain reaction because it’s not just an unmitigated criminal sellout — it’s an unmitigated criminal sellout that threatens public support for street artists. Perhaps Dan Bergeron can explain to us how IllegalSigns.ca can campaign against illegal advertising and support street art, when the ads are camouflaged as street art. That’s why Dan Bergeron’s corruption is a collateral attack on IllegalSigns.ca, and that’s why people seethe when they see Dan Bergeron, and that’s why they stomp away: because Dan Bergeron was an irresponsible, selfish asshole whose criminality pit public space activists against street artists, and who then had the hauteur to call us “juvenile” and “too cool” for pointing that out. You may think it’s “juvenile,” but we’re not the one who is counting Vespa’s money in our basement while fending off random haters on the street.
My thoughts are as a street artist, reclaiming public space for public consumption, you can't also be taking public space for private commercial means. The two ideas mutually exclude each other in their efforts and therefor confuse the intent of the artist. To think that as an artist you can practice such different ideal, shows ignorance to what you are actually doing as a street artist and ultimately depoliticizes your work.
Special thanks to RocketBoom, Andrew and Ronen for making the RocketBoom video possible. It's wonderful to watch these illegal ad locations go mute, and wonder what the city might put up for itself if given the opportunity.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I AM And Posterchild Time Lapse For NYSAT
Posterchild came down from Canada to Participate in the NYSAT project that happened April 25th of last month. Him and I AM not only managed to grab several amazing locations, but to time lapse the whole process. Here are the fantastic results.
Report From The Billboard Jungle in Los Angeles ::: illegalsigns
Toronto Making Huge Strides
Rami Tabello's Illegalsigns.ca tipped me off to the billboard tax being pushed through by BeautifulCity.ca in Toronto. Obviously this is an ingenious way to begin funding the public arts and a way for the advertising world to pay the citizens of this world back for the mental abuse we have been put through daily in our public spaces. I think of the tax as the rent advertisers must pay for the space they take up in my head.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Loie Merrit-One Artist's Experience
After talking to Loie Merrit about her experience with the NYSAT project, it became clear that there was a lot of interaction taking place between the whitewashers, artists, and the public. I asked her to write down what happened, and it turns out to be a great example of how this project raised awareness about how the public can participate in the construction of its shared visual environment. If there are any other participants that have an interesting story from the 25th, please email them to me and I will post them accordingly.
Loie talking to the tenants that live upstairs from the illegal advertisement she was painting on.
"As I finished my piece on the corner of Hooper and Borinquen, a couple approached me asking what I was doing. I explained the mass artistic protest that was occurring all around the city. After informing them that NPA Outdoor illegally achieves their outdoor advertising, they confided in me that they live in the building I was working on. According to them, on a daily basis one or two people come by at all hours of the day and put up the awful advertising that nobody residing in the building particularly wants to look at. Not only is the advertising unwanted, but they also told me that the people posting are incredibly rude! "We don't want these advertisements here," they said "They look awful and just prove to us that our capitalistic society has gone to shit!" During our conversation the couple expressed full support for what me and the other artists were doing, "We think it's awesome! We always thought they owned the space and we had no choice, it never occurred to us to just take the advertising down. We're so happy to have seen you out here. What you're doing should happen everywhere. And you guys are inspiring. Why shouldn't we take back the space that's ours!" This is just one example of the kind of support I experienced that afternoon. With any luck those people that did witness a white washer or artist at work will spread the word, and maybe even produce something of their own. We're living in a unique time and it is only through these types of movements that we will ever be able to challenge the money-hungry, socially corrupt, artistically bankrupt establishment."
Thursday, May 7, 2009
WNYC New York
Metro New York On NYSAT
Despite the negative connotations associated with the word Graffiti, I'm happy this article appeared in Metro New York. One important correction should be made, and that is that we did this in broad daylight. The idea that we were sneaking around at night while the city slept is just wrong. In fact this project was done on one of the first gorgeous days in the city, April 25th, and prompted the participation of numerous unsuspecting citizens who found themselves caught up in the construction of our shared visual environment. It was a wonderfully democratic use of public space and a new experience for the city as a whole.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
And They All Fall Down-Team 1
Team 1 had the wherewithal to "intervelometer" their entire whitewashing escapade. It should give you a good idea of how much space each team was responsible for. JPH and CB, love you guys. thanks a bunch for the fantastic footage. truly a gem.
Upcoming NYSAT Map
I should be plugging in all of the images that will help to complete the map of all the locations that were taken over on April 25th for the NYSAT project, but it is taking longer than expected and I wanted to offer a glimpse of what I'm up to. This is a screen shot of what a single location will look like once the map is finished. Each location will have an image with advertising, with a whitewash, and if art was produced afterward, that too. Once the map is public, I will be asking people to add any other anecdotes to the locations they worked on as well.
Monday, May 4, 2009
NYSAT-In The Van & On The Street
Real Names-Not Games
I would like to point out that many people involved in the April 25th NYSAT project decided to use their real names. In my case, and I believe in theirs, this was a conscious decision and one that reflects the motivations of the project in general.
I believe that physically, and often as a result, visually interacting with your public environment is an important part of being a citizen in any major metropolitan city. Whether it is through a community sponsored mural project, your own desire to adorn the streets, or simply scribble messages, visual interaction with your public space binds you to that environment. It creates ties which perpetuate your existence in that space and therefore your presence. That presence is a sense of pride that results in a committment to that same space. That commitment extends itself not simply to the physical space you occupy but to those individuals who share that space with you.
By using our real names we are asking that you look at us like regular citizens concerned with the health of our shared social spaces. We do not want to hide behind monikers and pseudonyms many have grown accustomed to pre-prescribing guilty of vandalism and criminal mischief. We ask you to engage a dialogue about the way in which our shared public space is used and how it might better be used in the future.
Question: (please leave your comments)
What would your reaction, and possible action be, if NPA brought charges against any of the participants involved the NYSAT project?
(for those unfamiliar with the NYSAT project, a general synopsis can be found [HERE] as well as in many of the posts since 04-26-09)
Sunday, May 3, 2009
How to Convert Illegal Third Parties Into Legal First Parties
Businesses that operate in the city usually affix some sort of sign to the building out of which they operate. This serves to warn the general public that they are located at this premises, as well as advertise to any passersby. We call this first party signage, and it's completely legal. The rules governing first party signage are things like size, lighting restrictions, etc.
Third party signage is any sign that advertises for a business that is not located on the premises to which the sign is attached. This sign is often paid for by an outdoor advertising company through rent to the landlord. This outdoor advertising company then essentially leases the space to advertisers for a premium, often times advertising for a business that may not even exist in the city in which the sign is placed. These signs are much more highly regulated and are the ones that PublicAdCampaign, and many other people take issue with.
Recently in an effort to raise issues about outdoor advertising, PublicAdCampaing organized the takeover of aproximately 120 NPA City Outdoor dedicated wildposting locations in New York City. We did so because while operating as third party signs, they had failed to get permits from the city and therefore were illegal. This allowed us a relative level of impunity, if not only in our minds.
It has been recently called to my attention that NPA, or maybe a company called CPI is attempting to get around this whole permitting, legality issue by simply making their third party advertising signs, first party business signs! How on earth could an sign, advertising anything from Nesquick to Star Trek, from I-pods to Skethchers, be a first party sign? The trick is that the products being shown aren't available in the building, but the actual posters which are advertising them, are.
89th street and 3rd avenue, or vicinity.
The Idea is, information regarding how to win these posters should be available through the business operating on the premises, or the building owner. In this fashion, a third party advertising sign ties itself to the physical location in a way that these companies will argue, legally makes them first party signs. I gotta say it's pretty darn genius. The first question we will get into, before we talk about how evident and obnoxious a legal move this is, is whether or not they will actually do the work to keep landlords and shop owners up to speed so that the "poster prize" business that is apparently being operated at these locations is actually legit.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Jake Price-NYSAT Images
It will take me a long time to go through some of the great imagery that people took away from the NYSAT project on the 25th. Maybe that's a good thing as content will be unfolding for a while. I grabbed this image from Jake Price's website. It's part of the series "While You Weren't Watching" that isn't actually up on the site yet. Seems like some of the whitewashers had the wherewithal to leave the "hopeless" text uncovered, ripe for an intervention like this. Amazing.
Friday, May 1, 2009
In a cruel twist of fate that I'm sure will not go unnoticed by NPA, I have come down with strep and it has prevented me from doing anything but lie in bed. I am attaching a video shot by team 3 of the NYSAT project to fill my posting void but also because is it indicative of the kind of day everyone who worked on this project had.
These two guys were amazing, and I hope to continue figuring out ways to work with them in the future. The video is a montage of the locations they whitewashed, first with ads, and then the white after they had done their work. I think around 5:18 you get to see them do some real whitewashing. They signed up for no other reason than they thought it was a good cause and I commend their efforts. As far as I understand, they had never done anything like this project and they took it very seriously, maybe too seriously. It must have been hot in those painters outfits.
Regardless, I think the overwhelming exuberance on their faces is testament to how incredibly invigorating and empowering reclaiming your public space is. The music choice they made might also be an indicator. In fact reclaiming doesn't even have to be a part of it, many of the artists who simply created work over these whitewashed spaces came away with similar faces filled with excitement. Being able to alter your public visual environment is an important part of becoming invested in that space. It is important that the city acknowledge this and find ways for its citizens to create murals, and do public works. This is an overwhelming task but one the citizens are willing to take on themselves, in the form of public school murals, graffiti murals, local hero memorials, and the numerous other form of public visual works that may be dreamed of if the spaces used for advertising are given back to the people of this city.