<body> Public Ad Campaign: April 2010
This blog is a resource for ad takeover artists and information about contemporary advertising issues in public space. If you have content you would like to share, please send us an email.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mutate Britain On The Robin Hood Tax

I don't usually post on street art that doesn't cover advertising but I thought this project spoke to the power of public expression and its ability to speak for the public's interest whereas advertising often only speaks to corporate interests.

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Poster Child's “Info-To-Go” in Toronto

Posterchild is hard at work in Toronto, not only taking over ads but improving upon the poor quality of the street furniture. I can't say enough good things about Posterchild's street work.

From Poster Child:

"I installed this piece yesterday!

It’s in a so-called “Info-To-Go” Pillar at University and Dundas! Only a few steps from the police station! :0

I wrote in 2008 about these pillars, and the rest of the Coordinated Street Furniture program in general, and that is a good place to go for background on this project, but I’ll get into more detail here about these “Information” Pillars specifically: 120 are due to be rolled out across Toronto- according to the cities website, 28 have been installed thus far.

They are an embarrassment and a shame for Toronto. Toronto is a great city, but we have a bad reputation amongst the rest of our nation. That isn’t anything new. We are thought of as a cold, ugly city obsessed with profit and completely bereft of culture. I live here, I love it here, and I know that image of us just isn’t true- but what other impression will we give to tourists and visitors to our city when we can’t even manage, as a city- the biggest in Canada I’ll remind you, to erect a simple post with tourist information and a map on it without succumbing to the temptation to privatize it and turn it into a profit-making venture? These “Information booths” are strictly billboards first, and tourist information second- and a distant second at that. The pillars are structured and oriented so that the ads get the best visibility and well over double the surface area. In fact, in most cases you would walk right past these ugly streetlevel billboards without ever realizing that it was SUPPOSED to be a tourist information pillar, never suspecting that there was a map tucked into the back, along with map dispensers- and in some cases- interactive touch screens. About those screens- I imagine that no one really ever expected the fancy hi-tech touch screens (How Toronto!) to operate indefinitely, but even I was taken aback when they were installed not working. They didn’t work from DAY ONE. They have NEVER worked. You can go check. Have a look at this booth I improved. The screen is dead. The map dispenser? It’s LED screen scrolls “SOLD OUT” and someone has posted the helpful label “Coming Soon” (Presumably, So you don’t waste your toonie on tourist information that actually won’t ever be coming.) The advertisements, of course, have been operational since the day the pillar has been installed. Like the streetlevel billboards masquerading as phonebooths in New York: As billboards, these pillars always work.

At least the scrolling LEDs at the top of the pillar give the time, right? It’s just too bad that the time displayed is incorrect by an hour.

But what more can we expect when we give the job of providing tourist information to a media giant? These companies are in the business of exploiting public space for profit, not in the business of enhancing
your experience of it for pleasure. They tell tourists what to buy, not where to go for free walking tours.

Toronto is spending tons of money selling itself as a cultural place. Events, promotions, slogans: we are told that we “Live With Culture”- and yet at the same time the city is defeating it all with short-sighted stupid moves like this. Yes, it’s just street furniture. But street furniture has such a huge impact on how our city looks and feels. It shapes it on the ground, it makes the first impression, and it continuously shapes further impressions as we explore the streets and all the sights and sounds that they have to offer.

And if we ever get lost in our explorations, we can always go to the nearest “info to go” pillar and find out what perfume we ought to be wearing.
(As you can see from the nightime shots that.. ah.. reveal which ads I.. harvested in order to make this work [I can't afford all that printing! Plus Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Right?] in this case, that perfume would be Marc Ecko.)

Of course, tourist information pillars should be providing a map and helping the lost AT MINIMUM. They should also provide some information on local lore, landmarks, and legends. So what I’ve done is fix this pillar (something I just couldn’t do with the broken payphones of New York) it is now, at least for the time being, a true tourist information pillar. It currently informs passersby that care to look, in the two official languages, about the nearby Canada Life Building and it’s weather beacon in brief. I hope it shows just a little of the great proud history and culture that we have to offer here in Toronto, and also how a different way is not only possible, but easily achieved. Imagine the rich possibilities if every future “info to go” pillar actually showcased some site-specific local history and knowledge?"

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Road Hazard or Next Great Thing? Digital Ads in the Rear Windows of Vehicles

Somehow this is not a joke.

In the long list of intrusive, distracting, potentially dangerous, and downright bad outdoor advertising ideas, putting the equivalent of a digital billboard in the rear windows of SUV’s and other vehicles has to rate as one of the worst. But if a Minnesota company called Rear Window Media realizes its vision, streets and highways will one day be filled with these vehicles flashing ads for the driver behind, who will likely need to tailgate to get a clear look at ever-changing pitches for products and services. The company is promoting this as a safer alternative to digital billboards. Are they serious? Apparently so. Check it out.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

OX Hits Old NPA Billboard and New Contest Promotions Sites

OX, one of my favorite French artists, has been in town for the past week. We met up as we have been communicating over email for quite some time now, and it was a pleasure. I went out with him Friday morning to watch him install the two pieces above. The image next to Dunkin Donuts was placed on an old NPA board which was white, while the image with the white chair covered an operational Contest Promotions illegal billboard and has since been removed. What a shame. Ox has been taking over outdoor advertising for 25 years now and continues to work with the frame and site in an effort to eliminate, or melt the barriers between the ad frame and public space.

On another note, I have noticed that work placed on the white NPA street level signs stays up for quite a while as the company is not taking care of them anymore. I highly suggest anyone with something to say go out and use these messaging boards for public communications of any kind.

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Lobbyists At Work: Billboard Companies Pay Big Bucks to Influence L.A. City Officials

Millions are spent to grease the wheels so that your complaints about outdoor advertising's abuse of public space are overlooked by our politicians.

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

In 2009, billboard giants Clear Channel, CBS Outdoor, Lamar Advertising and others paid a total of more than $1 million to firms registered to lobby city officials, according to City Ethics Commission records. This time period corresponded with the drafting of a new city-wide sign ordinance (still pending before a City Council committee), and several high-profile challenges by community and advocacy groups to permits issued for digital billboards. [More]

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Interview With Mobstr from Newcastle England

Once in a while we find an artist working in public space over advertising and want to know more about why they target these spaces. I recently became aware of Mobstr's work in the UK after seeing a "collaboration" between him and the Newcastel city council. His works over advertising as well as on the street speak to the viewer and question our relationship to our public environment and the city as canvas. Below Mobstr answers a few questions about his process, his relationship to his city, and his motivations for working without authorization.

1-Can you define what public space means to you.

I guess I think of public space in a city as the areas in which everyone is allowed physically access to. I am not sure if public space entails anything more than this.

2-With that definition in mind, why do you work in the public?

We’re indoctrinated with the belief that graffiti (or now known as street art) is a blight on our space yet the majority of us happily walk around the visual bombardment of advertising without a moment of questioning its justification. We’ll happily put a six metre wide billboard up on the side of a shop or house convincing you the latest innovative toothbrush will enrich your life yet when someone paints a picture on some brick we suddenly become offended. What is the difference between putting your image on the street via the means of a billboard or taking it into your own hands and spraying it on a wall? The billboard is legal and the spray paint image is not. Why? One is endorsed by money and the other by a creative spirit. I know which one wins out for me and ultimately which one creates the image I would rather walk around my city and look at.

3-Why do you feel you have the right to use public space and in particular public advertising space?

Our visual surroundings are very important to us. They dictate our mood, well being and satisfaction with where we live. The people who decide how we visually use our space have got it wrong. They want pictures of the latest fruit juice dripping with alluring condensation so I run to the shop and quench my thirst. I want something quirky and different. Something which makes you smile, which makes you question, which makes you think.... even if it is “why the fuck is that there?” I don’t have the money to pay to use billboards so I just go and do it anyway. Billboards are ugly and dominating. For these reasons I like to subvert billboards.

4-Is there a difference between your work over advertising and your other work on the street?

It is all about context. A lot of my work is site specific and this strongly applies to the use of billboards. When it comes to painting on a billboard I like to use anti-advertising. I try to make them counterproductive, to work against their own purpose. I think “What is the last thing a billboard would say?” and then I put that on it. I recently heard through a friend someone had taken a photo of one of my billboards thinking it was legitimate. With this is mind I might start doing the opposite and make “adverts” which are so blunt and to the point that hopefully people will question their authenticity.

5-How do you feel about the city you live in?

I tend to think of cities nowadays in terms of painting opportunities and Newcastle is difficult in these terms. It is crawling with police and cameras. Here illegal art is faces a very strict zero tolerance stance. I recently did this piece on the side of a burnt out building. It was situated in a cove in the wall which had become an improvised public litter zone. Discarded beer cans, empty wrappers and all kinds of shit were strewn around there. Within two weeks my piece had been buffed yet all the rubbish still remained. This would suggest people are happy to put up with garbage but not a painting on a wall. I hope this isn’t true but it demonstrates the absurd mindset that governs what is acceptable in my city.

6-tell us about one of your favourite experiences in public involving a person you didn't know.

I am not sure if it is one of my favourite experiences but it is interesting. I had just been doing a piece on a billboard and I had botched it. So I had to start all over again. While I am painting this guy rides up and asks me, “Are you meant to be doing that?” I make some council censoring excuse but he knows my game which is when he tells me he’s a writer. He offers to help out but we agree it’s better to come back with more appropriate equipment as I was making do with what I had. So we decided to go a bit down the road to have a chat. Quite instantly his mood changed and the chat evolves to the guy telling me that what I do is bullshit. It turns out this guy is one of those fundamentalist graffiti writers who believes you are only allowed to use spray paint for free hand use etc... I tried to explain that just because I use spray paint doesn’t mean that what he and I do is necessarily comparable. You don’t critically compare Picasso and Rothko because they both used a paint brush. He ended up getting really angry with me. When it got to the point he was saying he was going to knock me flat I decided to back off.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Banksy, Wooster, and the Street Art Problematic

Banksy hits NY city with his sniping promotions, RJ gets his two cents in regarding Marc Schiller's involvement in the Exit Through The Gift Shop promotion, Marc responds to the masses with an honest plea for understanding.

What is street art? What is this community we are all involved in but a loose knit group of individuals trying to make it in this world while promoting a criminal activity which holds keys to a better use of public space? I think we all need to take a deep breath and give one another some credit for championing what is an incredible deviation from the norm. I love the conversations that are a result of all this flurry of activity, in fact the conversation excites me more than the work in many ways.
Today at the Resisting Enclosure panel discussion at the CUNY grad center the theme I took from all the panelists involved was a playful use of the city space and our public environment. I decry Banksy's marketing teams' use of typical sniping locations for the promotion of his film. I responded accordingly. I am less worried about Marc's involvement in the promotion of Exit Through The Gift Shop. It was a good film and worthwhile promoting. I don't really know how the promotion benefits Marc, other than it promotes the Wooster brand, which honestly is a good thing by me as long as it is done conscientiously. I think the problem that we face is the fact that those involved in this art scene are acutely aware of the difference between the gift and promotion and draw thin lines whenever they can. These thin lines are not concrete but merely chalk marks we push back and forth as we navigate this incredibly new format.
Lets remember that street art, public art, graffiti, and all forms of unauthorized public curation are intent on creating dialogue, and refrain from making brash decisions about right and wrong, and realize that through our collective conversations we are negotiating what is the right and wrong use of our public environment.
This should ultimately be the goal of all of our actions. And if you want to see some of my favorite artists working today please see El Tono and MOMO for some of the best work around.


Resisting Enclosure: The Privatization of Public Space-Workshop Install

I was involved in a panel discussion this morning at the CUNY grad center in NY entitled Resisting Enclosure. After speaking about the PublicAdCampaign project along with the three other artists including one of my favorites, Jeff Stark, we broke off into workshop groups. I spoke about the tools of the trade and then went out to show the group how simple producing your own public media can be. The most important piece of information I can impart to people is how permeable the boundary between public and private can be. The book piece was put up in front of the group, the weave was produced later in the day and installed on my own.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

RIPO And Difusor In Spain

RIPO just sent me these images from Spain. He knows I'm a sucker for ad takeovers and the Spaniards have a knack for this sort of thing. He explains the simple but affective tactics like this...

"The unfortunate thing for Catalan billboards is that the only difference between Anuncia’t (advertise yourself) and Denuncia’m (report me to the authorities, or press charges on me) is three letters, a lick of paint, and a couple of minutes of work

At the same time that same message that is worth “vandalizing” can be empowering if painted onto a wall without any permission."

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Quick Sketch For Upcoming Mural

I have a mural production coming up that I will have to do very fast for reasons I won't get into here. I don't often work with bucket paint nor on concrete and other building surfaces so I decided it best if I do a little test on my roof. This weave is only fully realized from one perspective while all other angles fail to complete the image. I highly doubt this is what I will actually end up painting in the end but it was a simple image for me to test with.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Resisting Enclosure: The Privatization of Public Space?

I couldn't be happier about PublicAdCampaign's involvement in the upcoming Resisting Enclosure conference at The CUNY Grad Center in New York this thursday the 22nd. Ill be on a panel the second day with 3 other amazing artists and activists to discuss resistance strategies in the public sphere. We will be conducting some workshops afterwards to get people involved and answer any questions you might have about how to implement resistance strategies. This discussion is open to the public so please come down and get involved!

If you think you will attend, please RSVP to resistingenclosure@riseup.net.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Weave It! Hudson & Spring SWC

Hudson & Spring SWC 04-14-10

Hudson & Spring SWC 04-14-10

Although NPA has stopped wildposting construction sheds and has abandoned many of their previously operated illegal framed locations, they continue to operate a small number under the guise of legality through their sister company Contest Promotions. All of these locations are at places where a raffle box can be placed inside the building in an attempt to convert these signs from third party advertisements to first party signage. I don't buy it and the city isn't either so I felt like I would keep the pressure on.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

V-TARP PublicAdCampaign Submission

In case you didn't see our first post on this, Jerm IX in Vancouver is currently accepting submissions for a project he calls V-tarp. If you send him work at a standard size, he will post it in the Vancouver transit system and you get to be a part of a huge public reclamation project. Send all inquiries to vantarp@gmail.com or check the website, most importantly, get your work to Vancouver.
"The Vancouver Transit Adspace Re-appropriation Project, or V-TARP, intends to reclaim the highly sought after mindspace used by corporations to communicate with the public, by collecting artworks from across the globe and installing them in the transit adspace."
PublicAdCampaign (borrowed) 04-14-10

PublicAdCampaign (stolen) 04-14-10

PublicAdCampaign (bought-detail) 04-14-10

PublicAdCampaign (bought) 04-14-10

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Exit Through The Gift Shop Sniping Hit-Removed

2nd Avenue & 6th St. 04-13-10
RJ of Vandalog just posted his two cents regarding Jake Dobkin's recent photo of Banksy's street advertising for his new movie Exit Through The Gift Shop. (Which I saw and thoroughly enjoyed)
Banksy once said “‘Every time one of my friends borrows my ideas, mounts a huge art show and becomes a millionaire celebrity,’ a little bit of me wants him dead.” I’ll amend that to “Every time a street artist turns their back on their values, mounts a huge flyposting campaign and becomes what is essentially an advertising executive, a little bit of me wants to write over their work.”
Because RJ is far away in London and because we have just won the fight against NPA and thier illegal wildposting operations, I thought I'd take the opportunity to critique Banksy's commercial endeavor on our streets. I have been so busy I had to go over to this spot at 2 in the afternoon. I would have gone larger but this criticism was done at 2nd avenue and 6th street which is only a block away from the 9th precinct where all those arrested during the NYSAT projects were processed. I thought it better to make my point and move on.
2nd Avenue & 6th St. 04-13-10 (Banksy Adverts)

2nd Avenue & 6th St. 04-13-10

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

El Mac & Retna Next To Empty NPA Ad Frame

This image comes to us via Vandalog and I can't say enough good things about the two artists, but that's not what interests me about this image. Notice the empty NPA advertising billboard in the left hand corner. It is highly likely that the artists painted it over so the advertisements did not distract from their piece. It's also highly likely that it was white to begin with given the recent misfortunes of NPA. Either way what is important is that you can picture the juxtapostion of advertising and artistic imagery and how the differences in intent required that this ad frame be washed of its corporate content to allow the artistic piece your undivided attention. How incredibly incompatible would the two different contents be had the advertising been left.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yaron-Praha, Czech Republic

I've never heard of Yaron but Wooster turned me on to this takeover. A Fantastic use of the bus shelter back lighting.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Smarter Billboards Alter Content Based On You

Thursday, April 8, 2010

SuperFront Panel Discussion-DIY Public Space Makers 4/10 4pm

If you are around, come out this saturday to SuperFront at 1432 Atlantic Avenue, in Brooklyn to hear a panel discussion on DIY public space making. I will be on the panel as well as running a small workshop on how to create your own phone booth content.

As a part of the Brooklyn-Arts Council funded Cypher on Urban Affairs program at SUPERFRONT this spring, we are hosting a multimedia discussion on Do-It-Yourself Public Space Making. The panel is second in a series that leads up to the construction of a public space in the backyard of the gallery. [More Here]

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ridiculous Ads Worm Their Way Ever Deeper Into Public Spaces

Many of the images in this article are familiar but it's nice to see them all in one place.
A phenomenon that has been dubbed “Ad Creep” continues apace with our public structures as more and more are being rented out for branding and messaging. In India, for instance, a support column of a highway overpass has just been turned into a bone to hawk some pharma product called Sandoz, which turns your skeleton into concrete or something. [More Here]

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Paper Spaceship Post Update

After being hounded by angry media magnates we would like to update our recent post on the local art that is going up on NPA's empty boards.

We recieved the below email earlier this morning from the president of an outdoor advertising firm in NY. Apparently they think we are responsible for the Bill Dunlap prints which went up recently on empty NPA boards.
I think you should apply for a permit with the city to put up art. You really have NO right to decorate these whited-out NPA boards. It is illegal and your artists should be fined for their efforts. If you don’t like the boards, then there should be a PublicAd campaign to take them down, fix the walls, and recycle the material for the venues. You think that those wrinkled Bill Dunlap graphics, repeated over and over on those bards looks nice? You actually think that this is acceptable? I think they look worse than the worst of NPA’s bad wheat paste jobs. So now what? What if artists start putting pornography up there? What if graffiti artists start tagging all those boards with their “art”? What is the criteria and why are you so visibly in charge? Why are you doing this? Is the goal to remove ads, or have white walls for your artists to paint on? I assume it is the latter. And with letting artists go crazy on these boards, is potentially going to make the whole city look like the Lower East Side. I personally like the Lower East Side but not everyone does. You are opening a can of worms. Just hope you like worms.
First, I would like to say that PublicAdCampaign has nothing to do with the Paper Spaceship campaign. Another local company with ties to the art community has taken this opportunity to promote local artists while gaining themselves some street credibility. We posted it on our site because we thought it was nice to see these boards being used by NYC artists now that the ad content had come down. What we were unaware of is that in the upper right hand corner of each of those posters is a small logo directing you to Paper Spaceships website.

This is not good and if you are an artist that is thinking of submitting your work for this campaign, I would highly suggest you ask that this logo be left off the posters. The reason for this is simple, it makes these posters advertisements. Art in public spaces is much stronger when the author is unknown. The reason for this is that when a viewer stumbles upon work which is not authored, he or she is presented with a gift which asks for nothing in return. This gift with no purpose allows the viewer to get something without anything being taken from them. The problem with advertising is that it uses public space to get something out of the viewer, product purchase and the manipulation of your desires. These artworks, despite being less manipulative than traditional advertising are still promotional and in the end are less affective at creating a bond between public individuals than they would be if the logo was left off. It is for this reason that I never put a name, logo, or website on my work. In the end it may be a poor marketing idea for my personal work but in the end that is not what using public space is about.

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M.T.A. Switches Firms for Transit Advertising

Looks like TITAN failed to make payments to the MTA, so they lost the contract to CBS and had a $20mill escrow account seized by the MTA.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York has ended its contract with Titan Worldwide, which had sold the advertising space on buses and commuter trains since January 2007, and shifted the assignment to the CBS Outdoor unit of the CBS Corporation. [More Here]

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Newest Weave It! Adding Insult to Injury

NPA may be gone, but CPI is still attempting to hold on to a few of their illegal advertising locations around the city. While they are fighting it out with the DOB, we figured we would go out and add insult to injury with this newest Weave It! piece.
39th street and 3rd Avenue, SWC (04-05-10)
39th street and 3rd Avenue, SWC (04-05-10)

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Sam3, Subliminal Billboards, Spain

Sam 3's work has always been fantastic. This recent Billboard takeover in Spain proves once again that he is ahead of the game as far as we I'm concerned
Via Unurth

"Murcia is infected with the plague of billboards everywhere, most of them neglected. 12 altered billboards to write a word that is hidind behing all this." See more by Sam3. artist: Sam3 location: Murcia, Spain.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Empty NPA Billboards Getting Local Art

As many of you know, NPA city outdoor has withdrawn their OAC registration in part due to the NYSAT actions and the incredible diligence of hundreds of concerned citizens. From what I understand after paying close attention in ECB hearings, NPA will dissolve their company in an effort to evade the massive fines they are facing from the NYC DOB sign enforcement unit. Sadly the landlords which were duped into this illegal ad business, receiving a mere $120 a month, won't get off so easy. As NPA tells it they will try to reduce the landlords burden because they are tied to their buildings as the proprietors and could technically be forced to sell their properties in order to pay violations. I'm assuming NPA is only helping the landlords to avoid lawsuits from the building owners themselves as many of the properties have upwards of $250,000.00 in fines. It is a sad state of affairs when the city is forced to attack landlords, many of whom were unaware of the illegality of the signage they allowed on their properties since NPA obviously did not offer this information when procuring contracts. That said, if NPA can dissolve and avoid the violations, going after landlords is the only way to enforce penalties.
With that said, there is a design competition being run by some friends of ours that will be taking advantage of all the empty NPA boards. They are using these boards without permission since they are sitting empty and have executed their first postering with Bill Dunlap prints. If you are interested, we suggest you take advantage of this unique opportunity to cover our streets in some local flavor.

"Thought I would pass these photos along of some NPA boards we took over utilizing poster art designed by local illustrator Bill Dunlap. Going forward, we will be holding monthly design competitions - winners will have their design printed and displayed throughout the city on old NPA boards. Contest information is available @ www.Paper-Spaceship.com"

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Print in the Public Sphere-Artist Talk at Tyler School of Art

If you are in Philidelphia this Thursday April 8th, come to Temple University for a discussion of print in the public sphere. Both Swoon and I will talk about our personal projects, which will be followed by a discussion led by Sheryl Conkelton on print in public space.

Sheryl Conkelton is an independent curator based in Philadelphia. A member of the curatorial team that organized the key exhibitions for Philagrafika 2010, she has held senior curating positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Henry Art Gallery and, most recently, was Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at Tyler School of Art.

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Activists Take Over The Big Screen in Manchester England

Maybe not the most interesting takeover of all time but a huge takeover nonetheless. 1 Love indeed.

"At 12am April 1st, a group of "hactivists" and concerned public citizens infiltrated and hijacked the largest outdoor led screen in the north of England in Manchester for an April Fools day insurrection. The screen - all 7 stories of it, was subverted to display a different message to the 300,000 commuters that allegedly see the advertisements daily. The intervention stayed for 24 hours costing the fat cats over £30,000 of lost revenues"...The Dead Peasants

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      Sharon Zukin
      The Cultures of Cities

      Miriam Greenberg
      Branding New York

      Naomi Klein
      No Logo

      Kalle Lasn
      Culture Jam

      Stuart Ewen
      Captains of Consciousness

      Stuart Ewen
      All Consuming Images

      Stuart & Elizabeth Ewen
      Channels of Desire

      Jeff Ferrell
      Crimes of Style

      Jeff Ferrell
      Tearing Down the Streets

      John Berger
      Ways of Seeing

      Joe Austin
      Taking the Train

      Rosalyn Deutsche
      Evictions art + spatial politics

      Jane Jacobs
      Death+Life of American Cities