Mediacy At It Again With Digital Projection Shenanigans
I haven't posted on Mediacy for a while now. This is in part because Michael Gitter (The CEO) and I had a "falling out" after I generally couldn't put up with the bullshit, and in part because I honestly didn't see much of Mediacy's work around the city. There were only a few advertisements for their own services around neighborhoods I frequented and it seemed as if things had blown over after he courted Gaia. Little did I know that Mediacy is still alive and kicking with new and "improved" digs.This is the store were I often buy cigarettes before heading to my studio. It is between 17th and 18th on 9th avenue. I frequent it enough I know the guys inside. Last Tuesday I was walking to the train only to run into the newest incarnation of the Mediacy Gatescape debacle adhered to their gate. Emanating from a small digital projector hooked up to a laptop haphazardly placed atop a crate, was a full 3D Armani Exchange advertising video not without its fair share of gratuitous sexual reference. All of this was running off of a small Honda generator noisily clanking away behind a rented U-haul truck not 20 feet from the projection. Brand ambassadors, paid for by Mediacy, were there to hook you into stopping, trying to win a free shirt and generally making you pay attention to the budget spectacle they had created. People passed mostly uninterested.
I spoke with the two ladies in the picture above as well as the projection operator while I video taped the whole scene for my records. I also asked many questions about the operation, who was in charge etc. Apparently mediacy as they handed me Mr. Gitter's card. I asked about permits, hours, pricing etc. but there was little knowledge to be gleaned from these young ladies other than the fact that I should try on some 3D glasses and try to win a free Armani Exchange T-shirt. I continued downtown to meet up with a friend and found myself on Bowery and Kenmare.
Sure enough there were other similar setups located on both sides of this corner, albeit more shoddily setup than the last. It almost seemed as if a sheet had been taped to a rolldown gate for some underfunded performance art piece, surely not a high profile media campaign. At this location I asked one employee about permits and he hesitated. The team was in fact projecting on a different rolldown gate than they had expected to because the club two doors down had asked them to move so they wouldn't hinder celebrity photo opportunities. The guy I spoke with seemed to suggest that they had permission from the landlord but beyond that im not sure what steps had been taken to insure a legal ad projection permit. In fact, the owner of the tobacco shop I spoke about earlier had no idea a projection had happened on his gate the night before when I asked him the next day. Truthfully I could care less about the legality of this advertising technique.
What bothers me is Mr. Gitter's initial explanation for the whole Gatescape concept and how his explanation's hollowness reflects other outdoor advertising industries explanations when trying to justify commercial media in public space. "The good outweighs the bad". "We are providing a service." When in fact the real motivation is extracting value from our public space with little thought of the consequences. Throughout Michael and my arguments/discussions on the Gatescape concept and what it would potentially do to our city visually, Mr. Gitter continued to profess that his concept would rid the city of unwanted graffiti and help to make more coherent the visual landscape. While I wholeheartedly disagree that covering NYC's rolldown gates in loud, assaulting commercial media, would in any way help our public spaces, Michael did seem to cling to this notion as if he almost believed it himself.
Turns out my gut feeling that Mediacy had little interest in providing a service for the city but rather extracting value directly from our shared spaces, was right. These clearly opportunistic new Gatescape projections do not transform the city but for a brief moment. In doing so they create a spectacle based around our most base needs of sex and desire, ego and self, which has no place on our shared sidewalks. If that wasn't enough, the sheer sight of the hobo setup was visually appalling, distracting, and opportunistic. If anything the marketing director at Armani Exchange should be fired for not looking into how this "campaign" would reflect on the company. Either that or demand their money back.
While I could go on about this for a long time, I will let the video speak for itself.