<body> Public Ad Campaign: November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Right To The City: Paper Tiger Presents The First In A Three Part Series


This is the first video in a 3 part series presented by Paper Tiger on The Right To The City campaign. As this video does not directly relate to outdoor advertising I feel it necessary to explain why I would post this to the PublicAdCampaign site. As I see it, the Right To The City campaign is about providing a voice for those people that the city overlooks. Although this video talks directly about gentrification, the Right To The City campaign can be applied to many other areas in which the public at large is taken advantage of or overlooked in favor of a few individuals.

A while back I went to a lecture at the CUNY grad center in New York at which David Harvey, an integral component in this video series, spoke about the Right To The City concept. I wrote down some of my thoughts and realized this might be a good opportunity to post them as a way of tying the idea of gentrification, in relation to the Right To The City agenda, to the proliferation of outdoor media, as well as justifying the posting of this video. Both gentrification and outdoor advertising take advantage of the city at large, although in different manners, and with more or less obvious effects. By invoking the Right To The City concept, each movement gains momentum from this term's inherent power to represent the will of the people. The following text was my reaction to the lecture and my desire to expand this Right To The City concept to all movements that represent the public's wishes.

I went to a discussion a while back at the CUNY grad center given by David Harvey, Neil Smith, and Don Mitchel. My oversimplified view of the talk was that it was about two things; whether there is, or ever was an urban commons? And what the term "right to the city" was going to mean in the future, and whom would it favor? I'm not an academic so excuse me if I misquote some things. I don't have the material in front of me to draw from, so I will be going from memory.

Mr. Harvey began the talk citing some Marx I believe, specifically a hypothetical conversation regarding the equal rights between an employer and an employee to determine their own version of the working day. To paraphrase, the employer asserts it is his right to work his employees as hard as he wishes, and to death if need be. The employee then responds, that he has the right to live a humane existence where he is treated with dignity and respect over his long life. Marx says that between these two forces equal right to exert there own will on what constitutes a working day, the one with the most force will decide the outcome. To me this idea seems applicable in all situations where "force" is the resolving factor in any conflict of interest, above justice and truth.

The talk then went on to discuss the existence, and or loss of the urban commons, places people have an inherent right to inhabit simply by being in a city; sidewalks, parks, schools, hospitals. It then moved on to the term "right to the city", which has often been used to justify the demands of marginalized populations whose access to urban commons is restricted. But who has the right to the city? What does "right to the city” actually mean? Is it the liberal term to describe the under represented demands of marginalized populations in major metropolitan environments, housing, education, healthcare, homelessness? Or is it something else? Neil Smith made an interesting point, the term "right to the city" could be assumed by any person or group of people living in a city, including the likes of Mayor Bloomberg, or even real estate development firms. They too in fact have a "right to the city", and therefore the term is misleading and could even be problematic for the liberal agenda that wants to politically invest the phrase with a sense of urgency for those whose needs are being overlooked.

Outdoor advertising isn’t one of the typical problems associated with the “right to the city” battle cry, but here at PublicAdCampaign we consider it to a public health issue of great importance. This got me thinking about NPA city outdoor, InWindow, and all the other outdoor advertising corporations that abuse public space by illegally presenting messages that are inherently not public. Messages we as a community have decided should by law, require proper permitting because of their ability to alter the very nature of the spaces they occupy. Both NPA and InWindow, as well as countless other outdoor advertising companies, have forsaken this process. These messages not only construct public space in their own image, turning our shared environment into a commercial space, but also turn our public walls into a commodity, preventing people from using those spaces for important public projects.

These outdoor advertising companies often call on the first amendment when the public protests their abuse of our urban common space. In many ways, they are invoking their own "right to the city" as a reason they should be allowed to operate in our environment as they see fit, even when the city does not give it's consent. These bullying tactics only seem feasible when you think of Marx's idea that if two parties are given the equal right to determine an outcome, how public space is used, the one with the most force will decide that outcome. Outdoor advertising companies often impose their will, or "right to the city" with a monetary force that employs the awesome power of huge legal teams. This is unacceptable, and as a result must change the very nature of who “the right to the city” concept can apply to so that “force” is taken out of the equation.

It can be assumed outdoor advertising is in direct conflict with many people's desire for how public space should be used, given that we have made laws to mediate this conflict. Knowing this, a large community of activists and artists are out on the streets of our city attempting to reclaim what outdoor advertising has taken both physically and psychologically. This is often done illegally, and is our own demand for our "right to the city" in the face of this much stronger force. And yet inevitably that stronger force continues to decide the fate of an environment we should be in control of. The resistance we are putting up and our demand to be a part of the control process in our public spaces seems to be falling on deaf ears. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that there is no accepted avenue for public disagreement with how the city is being used and who it is serving.

How then do we then define this term "right to the city" so that it represents the will of the people and not the elite, or these outdoor advertising corporations? How do we create a city in which the public can protest and be heard, or invoke this "right to the city" in a way in which the city assumes our demands are the priority? This city should serve the people first. No one should go to jail for loitering, be moved on for no reason by police when congregating in groups larger than 3, or for defacing an illegal advertisement in protest of the wholesale abuse our of shared common spaces. The public is the only one who can demand a "right to the city" because we are the city. Corporations, buildings, governments and institutions may come and go but it is the people who should always be heard first. The term “right to the city” should be a battle cry for those whose voice represents this city. That means the homeless, those without proper healthcare, those without proper education, and I shamelessly throw in at the end, those who demand that the city be curated by residents and not companies trying to pry open our minds and insert thoughts of an entirely un-public nature. When the term “right to the city” is used in this light, it immediately invokes the power of the public and not those who have no right to determine our city’s fate.

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PosterChild Suggests A More Prudent Use Of Pay Phones In NYC

PosterChild is wrapping up his stay in NY very soon, but not before he gets out there and does a few more projects to make you think about the advertising that surrounds us and how it is altering our lives for better, or worse. His most recent project aims at making the viewer aware of the fact that the ubiquity of outdoor advertising does not have to be an entirely bad thing. In fact the millions of dollars that OOH advertisers are making off the space they are occupying in each and every one of our brains can be put to a better use than simply lining the pockets of media conglomerates. He writes...

"You know what I’d like to see? If they’re going to maintain, and even grow, the network of payphones as an advertising-revenue generating platform, then they should make all local calls free. That is the old “Contract” of advertising, after all: We shouldn’t have to be exposed to your damn ads if you’re not going to give us something back in return." More [HERE]

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Flair Magazine-Interview With PublicAdCampaign

You often meet interesting characters on the set of fashion shoots, but Jordan Seiler has a really unusual story. A photography lighting technician, he is also a very busy artist. He created PublicAdCampaign, a project that promotes, as works of art, the illegal occupation of public spaces designated for advertising. His goal? To protest against the distorted use of public spaces by the part of corporations and to return them to the public.

How did you start?

On a whim. I was studying at the Rhode Island School of Design and when I went home to New York and ride the subway, I thought that I would prefer seeing one of my images there instead of advertising.

What’s behind PublicAdCampaign?

Lots of money is made through advertising in public spaces. Unfortunately, we artists cannot afford to pay to exhibit our art; we can only do it illegally. Also, I would definitely like the streets more if we eliminated advertisements: it would reduce the corporate control of these places. They would return to the public, which could use it differently, more artistically.

What is your latest project?

My latest project is National Bestseller.

What is it about?

We took over the advertising spaces in phone booths with the pages of some bestsellers. It wasn’t so much about sharing the content of the book as much as the desire to return this space to the public. Books are loved and shared by many people and so it is only right that they substitute the corporate messages. It is a more democratic form of information.

And the next project?

I’ll be working with over a hundred artists and activists: we will take over 130 advertising billboards around New York.

Is there a political message behind this protest?

We move illegally and without permits, so this too is a form of “opposition”. We want the city to be returned to the public. It would be great if everyone could use it to display new and creative ideas. Public space is one of the last democratic spaces, where each one of us has the same power and the same “value” as the next person.

Working in fashion, you must have worked on the set of advertising campaigns. Isn’t that a contradiction?

Advertising is a tremendous force that guides our desires and persuades us to buy things that we might not even have thought of. When this content is in newspapers or on television or the radio, we can ignore it. But if it’s displayed on billboards, then we can only be subjected to it and we become unwitting slaves to the message, incapable of choosing. I don’t have a problem with advertising per se, but with how it is imposed on us in public spaces. So working in this industry is not a contradiction since I’m not participating in the creation of its content.

Do you know of similar initiatives in Europe?

In France they are at the forefront of this type of protest. I don’t know if this also exists in Italy.

Paola Salvatore

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Friday, November 27, 2009

RawleMurdy Uses The Recent NYSAT 2 Project To Call On Advertising To Make Artful Ads

Despite a full understanding of marketing's interest in "trying to shape people’s perceptions of concrete things in order to sell those things." Mr. Mathieu still seems to miss the point of the last NYSAT project. Irregardless of how "artful" an ad might be, it is still stealing from the public. By placing a monetary value on our public surfaces, we prevent those surfaces from being used for things that are good for all of us and not simply those intent on profiting from our cityscape. Honestly it really has little to do with "artfulness" or "beauty".

The example I often use is this. A deli owner is offered $1,440.00 a year to allow an outdoor advertising company to hang advertisements on the side of his or her business. Without much thought he takes this offer and profits minimally. If that space was not allowed to be used for commercial messages, another scenario might play itself out benefiting the city and its residents. One example might be that the 3rd grade class from the local public school would ask this deli owner to paint a mural about the neighborhood on the side of his business. Unable to profit from this space, the deli owner would be inclined to allow these youngsters to make their own mark on the city surface.

The benefit of this type of use of public space is relatively simple to understand. By creating something visual, the students will leave a piece of themselves behind. What is left behind creates an attachment to that space that results in an investment that is both physical and psychological. An invested resident is just that, someone who has a reason to care for the space in which he or she lives. Better yet, this type of use of public space also benefits the viewer, creating neighborhood landmarks which create spatial relationships, alter your sense of place and offer you community in an often anonymous landscape. Juxtaposed, the advertisement creates no such investment on the part of the producer or viewer.

October 26th, 2009 by Henry Mathieu

A response to the NY Times article, “A Battle, on Billboards, of Ads vs. Art,” by Colin Moynihan, published on Monday October 26 — http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/26/nyregion/26posters.html — and copied below.

There is an interesting piece in today’s NY Times. It reports on an artist named Jordan Seiler, and a group he founded called, “The Public Ad Campaign.” — http://www.publicadcampaign.com/ – They whitewash billboards in Manhattan and allow advocates to spread anti-advertising messages, or artists to replace the ads with their own artwork work.

“ … ‘We’re bombarded by ads every day,’ [artist, Jordan Seiler] said. ‘Advertising frames the public environment as being for sale but public space is not inherently commercial.’ … Some passers-by liked the commando like cover-ups; an artist named Jane Gennaro, who was not connected to the project, approved of the men painting over an ad for the video game Grand Theft Auto, saying, “We need to get rid of all the visual noise. …”

This raises an interesting question in my mind. If ads were more ‘artistic,’ per se, would they be considered so offensive? Would beautiful ads contribute to the cacophony of ‘visual noise’ we’re ‘bombarded’ with on a daily basis?

Ads are very often considered to be obstacles that impede our ability to get the information or the entertainment we’re looking for, or distractions that clutter our everyday lives. We’ve trained ourselves to side-step or tune-out the vast majority of ads we see in nearly every context. We tune them out, that is, unless they offer up something we want. Nobody seems to object to an ad that give us a piece of information we find to be useful, or an ad that makes us laugh. Thus advertisers try to cut through the clutter with targeted media placements, and offer up engaging/relevant content. What I take from this article is that advertisers aren’t making ads that are artistic enough to be relevant and engaging to Jordan Seiler and his New York street artist friends.

While I’m sure advertisers aren’t loosing too much sleep over having lost that particular audience, I do think we should pay heed to the fact that we’re very likely loosing other audiences who aren’t aggressively protesting our communication efforts. One way to get some of those audiences back might be to beat Jordan Seiler and The Public Ad Campaign at their own game. Here’s my challenge to advertisers far and wide: make artful ads.

When I was a college student, I was an Art/English double major. In looking for that somethin’-somethin’ I wanted to do when I grew up, advertising struck me as a real world application of many of my interests. I perceived the industry to be an intriguing blend of storytelling, music, visual arts, and pop-culture all applied to shaping people’s perceptions of concrete things. What I’ve learned since (and frankly should have been obvious to begin with) was that we’re trying to shape people’s perceptions of concrete things in order to sell those things. So while I recognize today that – Advertising isn’t Art, it’s Business – I’m still unwilling let go of all that initially drew me to the industry. Granted, advertising does thrust billboards and a whole lot of other ‘visual noise’ into all of our lives. So when we create ads, I feel it’s important not to loose track of the fact that each of these billboards can be thought of as a canvas not only to sell things, but to sell them beautifully. I would like to believe that I might one day create an ad Jordan Seiler himself deems worthy of hanging in his living room.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Don't Care About No Phone Booth



Someone sent me these three Brick of Gold pieces that recently hit the street in NYC. From what I understand they were up for a mere 2hr, just enough time to get some photos. There is something about the "I don't care about no phonebooth" piece that I really like. I think it's that I imagine many people would have a hard time believing it is advertising and therefore was probably successful at making the viewer question advertising's place in our public spaces. You can see more installs at The Brick of Gold website HERE.

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Najung Kim Works Over Advertising Too

A while back we were sent an image of a phone kiosk takeover done by an unknown artist. We posted it in hopes of finding out who was responsible for the fantastic work. Sure enough a few months later Najung Kim contacted us claiming responsibility. I love the fact that she uses her real name and that the image was part of a series done for James Victore's Urban Studio class at SVA. Visit Najung's site for more ad takeover images.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Email Correspondence Between Mediacy & PublicAdCampaign

The following post is in regards to an interesting email interaction between the owner of Mediacy Inc. and PublicAdCampaign. I think it helps, at least on some level, to better explain how both sides of this argument feel about their use/abuse of public space, and how remarkably similar those feelings are. It also is interesting to see people consistently call advertising art in these contexts. It is amazing that some people can't see the difference between the two, their different motivations and because of this their different effects on society. Intention is a huge part of the equation that is consistently left out of the discussion.

After receiving an unsolicited press release for the company Mediacy Inc. regarding their newest form of OOH advertising, the Gatescape, we couldn't help but immediately publish our reaction. Within minutes we received a complaint from the owner of the company, Michael Gitter. This is not the first time we have been contacted by the heads of major outdoor advertising firms for taking them to task. About 6 months ago we sat down with Steve Birnhak of InWindow, at his request, to discuss his illegal Streetscape business and why PublicAdCampaign was keeping tabs on the companies activities. I am happy to report the last InWindow advertisement that I know of was removed only a few days ago from it's 13th street and University location.

photo of old InWindow Streetscape at 13th and University around 07-09.

At this point a bit of back story is required to give Mr. Gitter credit where credit is due. It turns out Mr. Gitter was one of two owners of the MaxRack company. The racks provided free postcards in bars and restaurants to anyone who wanted them, and appeared in New York City a few years back. About 3 weeks ago Mr. Gitter contacted me saying that the business was ceasing to operate and would I have any interest in using the racks for the PublicAdCampaign project. I pondered this offer and in the end declined, unable to find an appropriate use for the now unused equipment. When we posted our initial reaction to the Gatescape concept, I did not put two and two together to realize that Mr. Gitter was also the owner of this new company Mediacy. Considering the nature of the business the press release was proposing, I can't say this would have changed my reaction.

What follows is a series of communications between Mr. Gitter and I which he has given me permission to reproduce for you. I think they are interesting to read because they show the inherent lack of understanding by most people of how advertising negatively affects the community and our shared psyche. Mr. Gitter, obviously cares for the city, being a born and raised in New York. He also has a deep felt appreciation for the arts as is evidenced by Maxrack's support of local artists as well as his interest in using Gatescape locations that are idle to exhibit artwork. The problem is, support for the arts in this situation comes at a high cost and that is the overburdening of our collective subconscious with commercial messages which not only alter our individual desires and therefore our society at large, but also define the city as an inherently commercial space. This also does not address the issue that art in this situation might be used to legitimate what could be an illegal advertising business that will have to take advantage before it can "give back."

Michael to PublicAdCampaign:
Jordan,

I spoke with you only a few weeks ago about offering you my old Maxracks postcard racks for your arts projects. I was fine that you decided not to do this but now you have decided to criticize my Gatescape? C'mon.

What I was planning to do is offer your artists some of the real estate when vacant, and print their art on the banners at my cost, to really make a great impression.

I am in business and you might not like my product. But I am an artist (www.fountation.com), a New York native and I am sensitive to over-saturation of advertising.

You could have at least called me, or sent me an email. But to publicly try to threaten or humiliate me and my efforts on your blog?

I don't scare and I don't appreciate this and I wish you would have taken a different tact where we both could have been happy.

But I guess this is not the way you work.

Thanks,
Michael
PublicAdCampaign to Michael with responses in red:
michael, i did not realize you were the same person who offered me the max racks. that was generous of you and i appreciate it.

I must say im a little appalled that you think my reaction would be any different than what it was, and if so then i take it those racks were a bribe for my sympathies.

Jason, I'm not looking to bribe or for sympathies. This is an idea that isn't even in our Media Kit and was conceived only weeks ago. I offered those racks, not out of fear of what you will say about the gates - I hadn't even thought of doing them at that time. I offered them because I liked what you did and the racks were becoming unappealing to me.

clearly this gatescape idea is nearly identical to the InWindow concept and given the way i have attacked their illegal practices I would clearly take issue with your "new" idea. not to mention this "new" adform you are trying to push can be extended much further than InWindow considering they rely on abandoned buildings where you rely on any space with a rolldown.

That's true it could be bigger. But given the ugly way these gates look as opposed to a nice clean 57th St storefront with huge clear windows and white walls, we see the concepts as very different from the efforts of In Window. (as I understand it, the idea is that Gatescapes will clean the city by replacing graffiti scrawl with huge colorful advertising images. If graffiti, and unclean gates is the problem, I suggest we address why young boys want to write their names on the streets and that Mr. Gitter start a gate cleaning business because clean gates have nothing to do with advertising)

all of this comes on top of how I have been championing the no longer empty project and these spaces being used for art. as well i think my position on outdoor advertising continuing to find ways to abuse the public by pushing commercial concerns on them is clear.

Jason, you are not the first and nor am I to come up with these ideas. For yrs I worked with Tibor Kalman's group at M&Co. And I'm sure you know about the work they did concerning making Times Square more appealing by doing many things with empty storefronts and gates when Times Square was the city's blight.

Im glad you thought you could offer a few free vinyl prints to artists and this would make what is potentially an illegal advertising business viable.

Please don't humor me with your snarky sarcasm. I am not interested in your views on how little or how much I do to sponsor the arts.

I think the no longer empty project clearly shows artists are willing to pay for their own materials.

Ok, so? Are there no talented artists or fantastic non-profit organizations who would appreciate and be helped immensely by space and supplies?

in fact im sure they appreciate the opportunity to install their work themselves, spending time on the street interacting with pedestrians and others interested in their creative process. Im also surprised you didnt mention this act of altruism in your press release. seems like it would be a big selling point if you were serious about it.

Jason, I have anonymously supported artists with Maxracks cards for decades without saying a word to anyone. Its none of anyones business what I choose to do with extra resources, and it is ironic that you are suggesting I exploit artists and nonprofits wrapped around the idea of altruism. Altruism is handled individually and if you want dozens of these people and organizations I have helped over the last 15 years just let me know.

As far as being an artist, a new yorker... what can I say?

You can say it counts for something. Or it doesn't. You can maybe say I am just like you in that I lived here my whole life and I don't want this great city to look like shit.

As for being sensitive to the over-saturation of advertising...is that a joke? why if you are sensitive to saturation would you start a company which will be over saturating our environment?

Joke? Some might look at your gigantic black and white squiggle on the wall in Soho as nothing more than ugly visual noise. (I don't know exactly what he is referring to here but I'm assuming he is talking about the image on the corner of Howard and Broadway) But see that's not for me to judge. I went to the Guggenheim and saw modern art of the Marlboro Man photos. Is that art? Who cares. Someone does. (Here again the difference between art and advertising escapes us. Richard Prince rephotographing the Marlborough man was not to sell you cigarettes but to elucidate ideas about authorship and reproduction in art.)

As for threatening, or humiliating you on my site, I am sorry you feel that way. I really never called you out but rather the company.

I am the company, Jason.

I think advertising like this is a blight and a humiliation to the residents of this city.

Some people might say Christmas displays in October is horrible. Or the smell of bad perfume being pumped out of Hollister's store front door is a blight too. We all pick our battles.

it takes them for nothing but consumers and this is a travesty. It is also taking away from the possible space for murals done by no longer empty and putting store owners in the precarious position of having to decide on profit over public health.

You had years to do something with these gates. But now I'm doing something so you kvetch? Is it because you didn't think of it for your artists first?

My last question regarding what I assume you are calling the threats in regards to calling 311. and believe me i mean this sincerely as you have been nice to me in the past in our email communications

do you plan to get these permitted through the DOB? because if not you should know that they will be illegal and you should consider the possibility of fines not making this a viable business option.

i apologize for our differences and I hope you can understand my point of view.

Point noted.

Two last items. We have a website: www.mediacyNY.com. And if any of your artists wants some free Gatescapes exposure have them call me.

Jordan
At this point Michael and I decided it better to sit down and discuss all of this in person. Because of this I did not respond to his email after this point although we continued the conversation where our lunch left off. I will relay these small communications below, Michael in Red and PublicAdCampaign in Black.

Michael: "Hey, walking home, and have already seen about 1000 ads on everything from buses and taxis to umbrellas and signs outside stores. Any interest in coming to the other side? Because Mediacy could use a salesperson like you. :)"

PublicAdCampaign: "I think we established the going rate for selling your soul at a million two right? make me an offer."

Michael: "Just like Cemusa, I'll pay it over 20 years!" (this is a refence to the crap deal the city took when it gave Cemusa control over the bus stop shelters and magazine stands in New York. The resulting deal would have Cemusa pay the city for control of these locations over a 20 year span.)

There was some very interesting discussion that happened over lunch which has resulted in Mr. Gitter contacting his friends at GenArt, FlavorPill and the likes, offering them the Gatescape format for artists when those locations are not rented for advertising. I will be sitting down with them all after thanksgiving to discuss how this situation might result in a more appropriate use of our public spaces. More to follow soon.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Exclusive New Posterboy, Decapitator Collaboration

Decapitator was in town recently taking Shakira's head off of 10 limited edition Rolling Stone magazines at the Union Square Barnes & Nobles. I was on site the next day and managed to rummage through the entire magazine section until I found one of my own, even after the Village Voice made the hunt public.

But this wasn't the only reason this artist was in town. Turns out the Decapitator had contacted PosterBoy before he came through and I met them at an undisclosed location to watch them create two collaborative pieces. The two images were then installed somewhere in the Bushwick area.



As for the imagery, it isn't really my cup of tea, but I do love the fact that these two artists' mutual disdain for the supremacy of commercial messages in our shared public spaces created a friendship that spans continents.

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The Gift, Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

I just finished Lewis Hyde's The Gift, Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World. One of the more interesting aspects of the book for me was the integration of the ideas regarding the gift economy with the artistic process. I highly suggest reading this book to anyone interested in defining more tangibly what is gained from the hours of unpaid work we do in service of our art.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

WVRB Radio-News From The Neighborhood

I will be a guest on Radio Provocateur this upcoming Tuesday, November 17th from 8-9pm. The program's host WVRB, broadcasts on 88.7 FM and follows a free and freeform method they explain like this...
NYC culture and personality specific radio brought with no inhibitions. Different voices for a diversified city. We're mad as hell hatters and we're not going to take it. So here's our radio. In the vast emptiness of the NYC airwaves a grassroots radio is taking hold. Intentionally free and freeform, free-speech, true freedom of speech radio.
I'm told the discussion will revolve around public space and its over commercialization in NYC. Obviously we over here at PublicAdCampaign have a lot to say on this matter and look forward to discussing the issue at length.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

PosterChild's New York Sunsets

PosterChild is wrapping up an extended stay in New York and he is busier than ever bringing us creative content. PosterChild is a good friend and I love his work so I say this with the utmost respect, revealing the process often helps grab peoples attention but the tape used to hold these images to the advertisements bothers me.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

GatesScapes Another Rip Off of An Artistic Program

Just when you think you have nothing to post on Friday, good public relations firms send you press releases like the one you will find below. If you regularly read this site then you probably already know about the incredibly affective non-profit group No Longer Empty. They have recently championed an empty storefront mural project with two incredible works by D-Face and Know Hope. Most recently we suggested they work with GAIA, whose mural was produced last Saturday and we anxiously await its release. We have been excited about this format as a viable way for some of today's leading street artists to find legal ways to bring their work to our city. Before we have had time to even remotely enjoy the possibility of a city filled with outdoor murals, the Mediacy ad agency (which doesn't even have a website yet) has stepped in to cash in on the abuse of our public environment. One thing I can tell you is they will need permits to put these ads up and you can be damn sure we will be calling them in to 311 as we see them.

On another note, there seems to be one InWindow advertisement up in the city that I know of and it has been a month at least since I saw the last one go up. I can't be sure but I hope the AAA and PAC had something to do with this, however small.

Love the use of the Kandinsky for this press release. Are they really to have me believe they will be putting up art and not two half naked people screwing each other?

Mediacy, Inc. Releases the Latest in Place Based Marketing:
Gatescapes

NEW YORK – November 12, 2009 – Mediacy, Inc., an innovator in the out-of-home media segment, introduces its newest division: Mediacy Outdoor, and their latest marketing platform: Gatescapes.

Gatescapes, made of specialty vinyl that is specifically cut for corrugated gates (roll down storefront security gates), make use of what cities have an abundance of: protected entryways. Mediacy Outdoor offers companies the chance to brand these gates with their logo. The ads will be featured on the gates of venues which are closed permanently or for at least 15 hours per day. Locations chosen have an average of 25,000 impressions per day based on Department of Transportation numbers, are illuminated by exterior lights during nighttime hours, and are large enough to be seen by foot traffic and vehicular traffic alike.

These spaces are available immediately with the option of either a two week or four-week campaign. 500 gates will be available in each market priced from $1,500 - $30,000 depending on the size and the duration of the campaign. Locations are currently available in both New York and Los Angeles, and are poised to expand to the top 10 DMAs in 2010.

Mediacy, Inc. founder and CEO Michael Gitter states that besides the urban beautification that comes with the cleaning, removal and prevention of graffiti on these gates, Mediacy continues to be: “a company in tune with the needs of advertisers in this difficult market.” Additionally, Gitter says that their Gatescapes “meet all the criteria for a Mediacy product: an expansive canvas for the message; innovative concept; effective media; uncluttered ad environment; colorful and visible."

Gatescapes extend far beyond the reach of existing media vehicles, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional advertising methods. Mediacy, Inc. continues to provide for the delivery of a customized message toward targeted consumer audiences on a platform which is guaranteed to astound, pushing the envelope for what place based marketing can accomplish.


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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Art, Advertising, Activism & Alchemy-An Evening of Artist Talks at Wonderland

Art, Advertising, Activism & Alchemy-An Evening of Artist Talks at Wonderland, Friday November 20th.

After an intense and long conversation about the PublicAdCampaign project, street art, graffiti, advertising, and public space with a wonderful and interesting film producer this morning, I felt it was time to announce this upcoming talk at Wonderland. It will feature the work and words of three other artists who I greatly admire, including Jason Eppink, Posterchild, and Gabriel Reese. Along with discussing the PublicAdCampaign project, I will be talking about the larger goals I think we all share as artists working in public spaces whether we know it or not, and how those might inform our future as a collective community.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wildposting's Been Operating Longer Than I Thought

A good friend and PublicAdCampaign reader, Elizabeth Carey Smith, sent me this image taken from Ellen Lupton's "Thinking with Type". According to Elizabeth, the caption for the picture reads...
"Lithographic trade card, 1878. The rise of advertising in the nineteenth century stimulated demand for large-scale letters that could command attention in urban space. Here, a man is shown posting a bill in flagrant disregard for the law, while a police officer approaches from around the corner."
It's interesting to know that illegal posting of bills, or Wildposting as we now call it, was illegal in 1878. I'm not so sure this has remained true the entire time since, but I can tell you Wildposting in NYC is completely illegal today. In fact, about 3 hrs ago I saw two construction workers on 17th street between 8th and 9th avenues laboriously removing illegal Wildposting from and area approximately 200' long by 10' tall. They did so by wetting down the illegal ad, waiting till the water soaked through, and then scrapping at them with a putty knife. From what I could tell in the 5 minutes I watched them work, this process would take at least the entire day.

Why were they doing this you ask? Because in our insane system, when you call in this type of illegal advertising to 311, the building owner is the one who receives the $10,000.00 fine. This I have been told is largely because the city is unable to positively identify the company who is sneaking around the city at night illegally posting these advertisements and therefor the building owner must be held responsible for the conditions of his property. In yet another bizarre loophole that keeps our city riddled with unwanted commercial messages, the companies who are being advertised are not responsible for the damage either. Again this is all because for some reason we can't figure out if the companies had full knowledge that the advertising they were paying for would be used in this illegal manner.

Excuse my language, but give me a fucking break. One only knows how many Wildposting companies operated back in 1878, but today I can tell you the one that rules NY with an iron fist, as well as most of the major cities around the United States, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., is NPA City Outdoor. In fact they own the copyright on the term Wildposting, which is odd because as far as I know you can't copyright something illegal. In fact this company openly admits that they offer citywide domination through Wildposting on their website...
"Available in the top 25 markets from coast to coast, nothing lets you dominate a space more quickly, or more efficiently, than our WILDPOSTINGSM Outdoor Advertising Programs. We offer high profile locations - with the greatest of visual impact. Because of this, big name advertisers are now using WILDPOSTINGSM not as a sideshow but as an integral part of their multimedia campaigns.
Firs of all, who said you could "dominate" our public space? As this situation is infuriating to many people living in New York City, PublicAdCampaign has made it a mission to deal with this problem. This has included laboriously cataloging and photographing 189 illegal NPA Wildposting locations around the city and sending this information to the DOB sign enforcement unit, as well as direct action projects to take back those spaces, if not briefly, for public use. The former resulted in no response, despite having a personal relationship with important people in this department, while the later has resulted in a total of 9 arrests of our friends and colleagues.

The result? A total disregard for our public space causing building owners to incur unnecessary fines and require them to pay for countless days of work to remove these illegal commercial messages. On top of this, the tax payer has had to foot the bill for the arrest, processing, detainment, arraignment, and judgment of nine individuals intent on helping the city become aware of this problem. With no one else to blame but NPA City Outdoor, isn't it time the city stop footing the bill for its illegal advertising problem and go after the company we all know is responsible?

More to come as the fight to regain control of our public space continues...

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Super Hero Changing Station

Charlie beat us to the punch on this one...

VIA Urban Prankster

New York City has had a ton of phone booth art this fall. Lately it seems like you can’t go for a walk without seeing a great piece by an artist like Jordan Seiler. The above was done by Toronto’s Posterchild, who’s been hanging out in NYC quite a bit lately.

I love these unauthorized projects because they’re turning useless eyesores into art. There are certain city blocks in NY that have upwards of 10 public telephones. When is the last time anyone used a payphone? I understand their utility for those who can’t afford or happen to be without a cell phone, but really, do we need multiple phones on every corner? These structures are simply huts to cash in on advertising dollars, and they needlessly pollute the scenery of our streets.

Here’s a great NY Times article from 2007 that explains that pay phone advertising rakes in $62 million a year: As Billboards, Public Phones Always Work.

Also of note, you can see both Seiler and Posterchild, along with Jason Eppink and Specter, speak about their work on Friday, November 20 out in Astoria — details here.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The 2009 Summer Arts Institute Filmmaking Workshop

This video was shot and edited by four incredibly talented high school students working in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Institute this past summer. I was excited to see PublicAdCampaign paired with two other direct action projects run by, Real Life Superhero Life, and Deborah Fisher of the Bed Stuy Meadow Project. All of these projects are ultimately about creating positive dialogue in our city about issues facing our public health, through alternative methods that better the environment and the people who live in this city. Thanks again to everyone involved and to Deborah and Life for being two inspirational public individuals.


Make it Happen

By Caroline Handel, Rayhan Islam, Milo Finnegan-Money, Rhakwaun “Rocko” Seymour

Three people in New York City, disillusioned by their political situations, have taken matters into their own hands. Make It Happen profiles each of these non-traditional activists as they tackle issues in their local communities through unusual forms of protest and with innovative ideas to make change.

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The city that went to war on advertising

Sao Paulo banned all outdoor advertising in 2007 on the understanding that getting rid of the commercial blight was in "the highest degree of public interest, seeking as it does to promote the public good essential for a better quality of urban life".

VIA The Independent

Sao Paulo has banned billboards, and residents are using a hotline set up by the Mayor to report any and all offenders

By Hugh O'Shaughnessy

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Stealthily, cleverly, implacably, the officials of Sao Paulo – its 20 million inhabitants make it one of the world's largest cities – are after their prey. Since the first day of 2007, morning, noon, night and at weekends, Argus-eyed, they wait and watch for it on foot and in their vehicles. Their weapon is the Lei Cidade Limpa, the Clean City Law. [MORE]

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Looks like OX got Up After All

Looks like OX got up after all.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

OX-Central Park Arrest In January of 1985

Photo by Bill Cunningham

This is an image OX sent me from France. It's of him and friends being arrested for posting their artwork in Central Park in January of 1985. Who even wheat pasted in 1985? Awesome!

Photo by Masto

Before I had a chance to post on the arrest photo above, OX sent me this image of him and Closky from around the same time period. This gives you a better idea of what kind of wheat paste imagery they were putting up. Check the jackets, also by Closky.

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Seen On The Streets Of NY-Prayer Booth

VIA Wooster Collective

This NYC phonebooth takeover was found by Wooster Collective readers. It's always a pleasure to see people out on the streets making fantastic work. Considering a good portion of phonebooths in NY don't have working phones and are really just advertising frames, it is about time someone put them to use for something better.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

World Gone Ad - Plastique Magazine


Plastique is a UK based fashion and art magazine that was kind enough to feature the PublicAdCampaign project in their last issue. A while back we posted the original text that we wrote for them. Here is the final layout and text, slightly edited to be more understandable than my original gibberish.

To all those that came out to the Lucid NYC event last night, thank you so much. To those who are still waiting on the NYSAT project micro site, we will have something up very soon, although it will be unfinished until we can figure out what can and cannot be posted to insure the protection of all those involved.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Building Community, American Eagle VS JR

Today American Eagle Outfitters announced its plan to put your face on a 25 story digital billboard in Times Square, provided you buy something of course. Especially because this is in Times Square, I'm not all that opposed to this marketing ploy. After all it does present residents (tourists) with an opportunity to imagine a world where their faces and ideas become a part of the visual landscape, an alternative to outdoor advertising we at PublicAdCampaign champion.

I couldn't help but think of JR's work in Brazil as a similar and yet incomparably different version of this recent American Eagle stunt. JR is known for going into communities and photographing the residents, blowing those images up to incredible dimensions and then applying them to the city structure.

Both projects present the public back to itself but there are many differences between the two. The monetary incentives, nature of the subjects, location of project, are three of the more obvious, but I think there is one difference that is less noticeable, and yet incredibly important. This is the relationships that the people who interact with these two different projects develop. The American Eagle project leaves the participant and the producer separate, isolated and disjointed. You get 15 seconds of fame, American Eagle capitalizes on all the friends you have that will talk about American Eagle through your appearance. There is no lasting relationship developed in an exchange where the two parties intend to take something away from the interaction.

JR's work is exactly the opposite. No one takes anything concrete away from the interactions between artist and subject in JR's large scale projects except a lasting connection and real relationship. The images, taken by JR, are returned to the community in the form of artwork. The initial gift by the subject, allowing themselves to be pictured by the artist, is returned to the subject as a lasting image of themselves in their community which announces their humanity and presence in the world. An exchange of this nature actually builds, gives life to new community.

The difference between the two then is not so much monetary, but in their ability to alter the community positively by causing real social interaction which turns into lasting relationships. You can be sure both JR, and the lives of his subjects were significantly altered by these projects and that a continued mutual respect will pervade any further interactions. You can also be sure American Eagle, and the consumers using their purchase to buy time on a big screen have developed nothing, and in fact stolen from each other for personal gain. Each participant in this case moving away from the point of interaction with no sense of community and no lasting attachment to one another. Such is the difference between commercial interactions and community interactions in a public environment.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Learning From Our Mistakes-Apologies to UK Street Art

UK street art masthead

This may seem a little absurd, but I have been reading a lot about the gift economy and am becoming hyper aware of the social benefits of "sharing" or creating community through exchange without expectation of return.

As this site is a continual learning process, sometimes we make mistakes and they need correction. A while back we "stole" the entirety of UK street art's recent interview with PosterBoy. In the comments on that post they said, "You could have just linked to our post rather than just rip it directly!" My obnoxious response read "sorry. I just want content to be readily available. I think most people know about how awesome UK street art is. If you would rather we not post your stuff I will make sure we don't in the future. If this is about hits, let me tell you we are an anti advertising site and don't give a hoot about those." I was clearly equating "hits" to economic capital for potential advertising revenue, and was not respecting the nature of the UK street art site as a creative entity to be respected.

Tonight I was having a conversation about the creative commons concept with another media awareness advocate from LAMP (Learning About Media Program) when realized I had made a mistake that needed correction. There are guidelines to abide by when sharing creative content which can allow the free flow of information and creativity without the need for monetary compensation. A few simple rules surround the concepts of attribution, commercial use, distribution, etc. I had taken the license to attribution, which in this case I'm sure they were fine with, but I had also taken a license to distribution. Not only do I think this was unfair, but obviously they did also.

If UK street art was a commercial institution profiting directly from their interview with PosterBoy I don't think I would be making this apology outright, I'd probably be hearing from their lawyers. (He also probably would never have given the interview) Given UK street art is not intent on controlling the spread of this wonderful information they created, I should have respected the rules of the creative commons and posted only the first paragraph, then linking to their site. (As we often do) They had gone through the trouble of creating this thing that they were willing to share, and I had taken the gift without returning the favor.

I was not intent on stealing so much as I did not think hard enough on the concept of the creative commons and how that idea, through continued respect, creates a community that goes beyond even the information and creativity. This community is an important part of being a cultural producer, and the development of mutual relationships within that community, an important part of being a cultural producer. For this I would like to openly apologize to those at UK street art and promise from now on be to more aware.

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Presentation on the NYSAT Project and Goals for Lucid NYC

This Wednesday I will be giving a 10 minute slide show for LucidNYC on the recent NYSAT projects followed by a 5 minute Q&A. Their monthly event showcases interesting people and ideas in NYC and is well worth checking out. If you would like to come, please visit their website to purchase tickets in advance to save yourself 5 bucks. Doors open at 7:00pm and the talks begin at 8:30pm. See you there!

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

New York Magazine- Breaking Section


We were recently in the Breaking section of New York magazine after speaking to Erica Ogden for a lengthy amount of time over the phone. Erica had a wide range of interesting questions that got to the heart of some of the issues surrounding the NYSAT project and PublicAdCampaign's goals in general. Sadly none of this could be relayed in the 3 small paragraphs adorning a picture of me that I wish was left out so more text could have been included. I know this is not a function of the reporting so much as the section in which we were included. I want to take this opportunity to explain some things further.

Thank you Erica, and New York magazine for including the project in your pages. We greatly appreciate your interest and dedication to stories affecting all of our lives in NY.

First, the reasons we should exclude advertising from environments where we have no choice but to imbibe the intoxicating messages should be further explained. Advertising, without a doubt is a manipulative force. This becomes obvious when you look into the terminology advertising often uses to explain to its clients what it will be doing for them. Terms like "domination", "immersion", "saturation" pervade the language and give a good indication of advertising's intent to control viewer response. This manipulation, in pursuit of profit, has as it's goal not the psychological health of the viewer, but his or her wallet. While this may not be the worst thing in some cases, often products with commercial value fail to provide consumers with an object of any real value for their lives as productive engaged citizens of this world. Meaning these products do not enhance your relationship to your friends, neighbors, and others which you share the world with, instead offering signs of conspicuous worth used to flout your status above others. As trite as this may sound, the way you sell a Hummer is you tell the consumer it will make women swoon and guys cower in your presence. You do not tell the consumer it will get 12 miles to the gallon and help to destroy our collective environment, burdening your fellow man and making you a liability to those around you. If advertising were that honest, we would all be driving smart cars and prius'. Prone to the manipulations of advertising, we see many consumers driving Hummers unaware or blinded to the nature of their consumption. The danger of advertising's influence should be recognized for what it is and regulated, especially in those spaces where our collective identity and needs are paramount, like public space.

The article also glosses over the fact that the advertising locations we were targeting are in fact 100% illegal, quoting us as saying that "we believe [they] are put up illegally." To operate outdoor advertising in the city of NY, one must be registered with the city as an OAC and have a permit for every location that the company operates. The city requires this so that they can maintain control of an industry that often abuses the public in pursuit of ever increasing profits. Permitting is something NPA has failed to do for all of it's over 500 locations. Take for example the location at 100 avenue A where two participants were needlessly arrested in the first NSYAT project. This location, despite having a $25,000.00 fine associated with it continues to get new ad copy. This location is one of many that have been pursued by the DOB and is one of the 114 the last NYSAT project whitewashed in an attempt to bring this issue to the forefront of public consciousness. On top of this, NPA has the copyright on the term Wildposting, and admits to operating Wildposting services in NY on it's website, something which is all together illegal in the city. On top of this NPA is in a heated lawsuit with the city of San Francisco over its illegal ad locations run amok on these California residents. Clearly the company is ignoring the law and operating illegally.

Lastly, a quote taken slightly out of context needs to be amended. "I honestly believe that I’m right—that people should be allowed to make commentary like this and that I need to not be hiding." This quote came as a response to me being was asked why I use my name in association with this work and not a pseudonym. First, I honestly believe that WE are right. There were 80 participants who believe that this issue is a growing problem for this city and that our voices should be heard. At worst our actions should not be criminalized, at best we should be greeted by the city with respect for taking the initiative to help the city without interest in personal profit on an issue it is having a hard time controlling. Part of using my name is to remind people, the city, and the law that what we are doing is not vandalism, graffiti, or the wanton destruction of property. This is a project done out of the deepest respect for the city and all it's residents.
“I don’t really have a problem with advertising. I kind of enjoy it. And I’m a freelance photographer, so there are definitely times when I’ve shot advertisements. There’s a difference, though, between advertising that’s presented in situations where you have a choice as to whether or not to take in the message and places where you do not.
[More]

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