Eduardo Moises Penalver & Sonia Kaytal Property Outlaws: How Squatters, Pirates, and Protesters Improve the Law of Ownership Barbara Ehrenreich Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy Lewis Hyde The Gift, Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World Geoffrey Miller Spent: Sex, Evolution, & Consumer Behavior 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
Monday, May 31, 2010
Billboard Blitz (Drink This!) Alters Landscape (Buy That!) of City
Here is yet another article on a city overrun by outdoor signage and commercial messaging. What is interesting is that this article does begin to address some of the often neglected issues with the proliferation of outdoor media in the public landscape instead of falling back on the civic beauty arguments which often support anti-billboard propaganda but fail to get at the more pressing issues behind monetizing public space. As with Sao Paolo, where the removal of commercial media resulted in the discovery of failing infrastructure and even an entire favella previously unknown to Sao Paolo's residents, Cairo's outdoor advertising network hides growing class divides between the haves and the have nots. Put more succinctly,
This (outdoor advertising) may seem a trivial issue in a city where so many residents face serious difficulties like poverty and health concerns. But it is often these symptoms of systemic dysfunction, the head-splitting noise, the piles of trash, the gut-gripping traffic — the jumble of billboards — that make the days so hard to get through. All over the city, people say, the billboard frenzy has reinforced a sense of alienation. They say they see that there is money, and they know they do not have it, another unintended consequence of economic growth that has so far failed to help lift the poor.
CAIRO — There are just too many billboards in Cairo.
No one is quite sure, exactly, when a lot became too many. Maybe it was when row after row of billboards began taking over sidewalks, making a difficult city to navigate even more difficult.
Or maybe it was when what seemed like every light post was fitted with an advertisement, or two. Or perhaps it was when billboards massive enough to mount atop high-rise buildings were bolted alongside the Nile. (Or for that matter when the billowing sails of the majestic felucca boats on the river were painted over as advertisements, too.) [More Here]
Recently I was followed by Pilar Damato, a wonderfully talented MFA student at the School of Visual Arts. She produced the following short doc on the PublicAdCampaign project after spending extensive time with me both in the studio and on the street. It was a pleasure working with Pilar and I hope to continue to do so more in the future.
My name is Pilar and I'm an MFA student at the School of Visual Arts in documentary film. I have a background in political theory and urban spatial theory so I have a strong personal interest in the Public Ad Campaign's work. As an artist I wanted to shoot this because of it's visual potential but more so because I believe that citizens need to raise their consciousness levels about the spaces they exist in. To me Public Ad Campaign is an example of an organized and effective reclamation of one's right to the city. I hope the film contributes to Jordan's body of work as well as shows people that they are legally entitled to creating the the conditions of their own city.
I first learned about Jordan and the Public Ad Campaign while I was leafing through New York Magazine. I admire that he has the courage of his convictions regardless of the illegality of his work. I wanted to make a film about a New Yorker that interacts with their environment and is aware that they are responsible for the city that they live in. Responsible, that is, beyond consuming, using transportation, enjoying arts and culture, and taking advantage of what's offered. All are important elements of one's experience in a city. In a population as transient as New York's I believe it's important to shine a light on those who are actively committed to shaping the city's personality-and in Jordan's case, the way we interact with the public space.
If you read this blog regularly, you are probably familiar with the fantastic V-tarp project being run by Jerm-IX and Vegas in Vancouver. Recently they were contacted by the manager of customer services and marketing at Translink with a request to stop posting artwork on the Vancouver transit system. This has resulted in what I believe to be an incredible opportunity to engage a municipality in an open discussion about the appropriateness of unauthorized public communications. Below I have relayed the contact letter as well as a link to the responses which Jerm-IX is asking the community to make as public analysis. As well I have relayed my personal response which I have written without edit and from the heart. Please excuse the lack of grammar, sentence structure, and syntax, as I feel the emotive quality of my response demands an immediate post without edit.
Dear jerm IX and Vegas,
My name is ------- ---------, and I am the Manager of Customer Services and Marketing at TransLink. And as you may have already guessed, I’m writing to you in regards to the Vancouver Transit Ad Reclamation Project (V-TARP), your project to install artworks in the spaces used for advertising on our transit system.
To be sure, discussions about public space, its intersections with private interests, and its obligations to serve the community are very important. It’s something we think about at TransLink every day, as much of our work in planning and operating our transit system brings these issues of public space to the forefront.
However, we at TransLink have a limited budget with which to serve the people of this region. As residents balk at supporting transit through higher taxes, fares, or other fees, advertising from private companies provides an additional source of revenue that helps support our system.
So while the issues you raise in V-TARP are important, your project is sadly affecting a key funding source to make its point. By taking over our ad space and posting works that criticize our ads, V-TARP is creating a negative impact on TransLink’s relationship with advertisers, which is starting to cost our system in revenue. As such, we would like to ask if you could bring V-TARP to a close and refrain from posting further works on our advertising spaces.
Thus far, our transit advertising agency LAMAR has spent over $3,000 in labour charges to remove the V-TARP pieces. As well, a number of our larger advertisers have called LAMAR with concerns about the V-TARP projects. If the advertising environment becomes inhospitable, these accounts may cancel their contracts with us. Finally, if there are ad campaigns have been booked with LAMAR but are then cancelled before completion, TransLink is on the hook for the costs of that campaign. In the past, pulled campaigns have cost us $10,000-$20,000 in fees.
We do recognize the value of art to our system and our community, however, and if there is a way to work together in a way that does not impact our revenue sources, we would be happy to do it. For example, we are trying to expand our Poetry in Transit campaign beyond its current scope, into an Art on Transit program. We would love to work with you and other artists to build something that supports and enhances the public spaces that we all value.
Contact me if you would like to discuss the above opportunity further.
please excuse my lack of grammar and sentence structure as i am writing this quickly and from a deeply emotional place. what you are doing is incredibly important and i cannot stress enough how emotionally i fell about this recent predicament.
this is a fantastic turn of events. like you said in one of the comments on your flikr page in regards to your posting of the translink letter, this is about dialogue and clearly there is one being developed. I think you should decide how you are willing to cooperate. one of the things i think is really important about V-tarp/NYSAT type projects is that they do not ask for permission. Interacting with public space should not require the approval of a larger institution. your mere presence as public citizen should allow you access to that space. These days im coming close to believing in the total decriminalization of all visual interactions in public space despite their performance on what we might consider private property. as far as im concerned, anything that is viewable, reachable from a public sidewalk, or other form of public space is itself public property. your use without permission of the translink system works along those lines and if they were to integrate your work, artists into the art for transit system, it is an admission that public space use is discretionary, something i believe is very problematic.
as for their kind, but slightly threatening tone, due to their mention of the damages associated with your work, im not exactly sure what to say. I think it is important to stress the fact that you have not removed any advertisements and therefore have not caused any damage. the translink/lamar employees sent out to remove your work are doing so in haste as they could easily remove them on their regular rounds at no cost. or for that matter they might leave the works up as your work has two positive affects for the vancouver transit system. the first positive is that the residents of vancouver are now subjected to a critical discussion about advertising and public space usage, free of charge. this inherently adds to the vibrancy of public dialogue and therefore the city as a whole. you are creating cultural capitol for the city for free. two the advertisers, once operating in a somewhat dull outdoor media space, commonly ignored by the public, are now presented with a potentially more engaged audience. There are more eyes are on this ad venue because of your work and therefore your work results in positive public attention to their ad campaigns. alas, much of the v-tarp work is critical of advertising methods and intentions but i believe this is not a valid argument for your removal. a public space interested in free speech and therefor healthy political dialogue should embrace criticism and the advertisers should be forced to respond accordingly, not the other way around. if they are threatened by you saying their ads are a lie, well its probably because they are. if the ads were not manipulative and relied more on information than the manipulation of public desire, they would probably not feel as threatened.
I would hope that you might strike a positive mediation between your work and the typical commercial ads that happen in the vancouver transit system. There is a middle ground upon which your public dissension can operate alongside a healthy advertising community. if this is not the case, then there is something inherently wrong with advertising messages in that they cannot operate alongside critical analysis. and isnt this the test of properly operating public space? As street artists, graffiti artists etc, we are constantly put on the defensive to protect our methodology. why should advertising not be put on the same pedestal and asked to validate its existence alongside critical thought. i would argue for the existence of illegal street art and public communications for multiple reasons. let the advertisers argue their rightful place amongst your critique and if they find they cannot coexist then there is something inherently wrong with their medium.
please note that I am in full support of your project and would like to extend my help in any way possible. I think what you are doing is incredibly important and the recent contact made by the Translink system has raised the potential of what you are doing tenfold. your response to their interest in shutting you down might define this project and its goals more than the continuation of artistic postings. I wish you the best, and again send my full support in whatever way that might unfold.
San Francisco Loses Round in Legal Fight Over “Mom and Pop Store” Billboards
Dennis Hathaway over at Ban Billboard Blight has reduced the ruling between Contest Promotions and the city of San Francisco to a manageable read. While Los Angeles and New York are yet to confront Contest Promotions and the twisting of legal language for their own devices, this ruling does not bode well for either city. We can take some comfort in the fact that in New York at least, a large portion of NPA's (now Contest Promotions) street level billboards have been removed and they have stopped Wildposting every construction shed in the city with illegal commercial content. We will keep you posted if either LA or New York decides to challenge Contest Promotions in an effort to clean up our city and prevent outdoor advertising firms from determining how our public spaces are used with little consideration for the rights of the residents or for the efficacy of our city government in controlling commercial interests.
In 2002, voters in San Francisco overwhelmingly approved a no-exceptions ban on all new billboards and other forms of off-site advertising. However, last week an L.A.-based sign company won a ruling in federal court that could seriously undermine that ban, and may have implications for the effort to limit outdoor advertising here in Los Angeles. [More Here]
Add-Art is a fantastic advertising replacement plugin for the FireFox browser. Regularly curated by artists, the images which automatically replace any advertising content on the internet come from a wide range of backgrounds and practices. PublicAdCampaign was asked to contribute to the most recent gallery set and we hope you will enjoy an ad free browsing experience courtesy of the good people at Add-Art. If you like what you see, donate a few bucks to keep the program evolving and the artistic curation fresh and relevant. Download Plugin [HERE]
If you have anything you can give to this Kick Starter funding campaign please seriously consider a donation. The organizers of this conference truly have Atlanta in their hearts and have dedicated themselves to investigating ways in which to give voice to the city through what is shaping up to be an incredible lecture series as well as inside and outside gallery exhibition.
Living Walls is an Endless Canvas sponsored exhibition and conference focused on street art and its role in engaging public space.
We are bringing in the works of an international selection of artists who typically make use of the streets to showcase their work. We have also sought artists that re-appropriate the public realm, attempting to take charge of their media space.
Artists will be asked, along with submitting artwork, to present some form of documentation of their other works as well as their process in order to illustrate via pictures, video, sketches, words, etc, the scale and context in which the artist typically works in public space.
Logistics: First in order to understand why we need to raise funds let us provide you with more specific logistical information regarding our project.
The project will be divided into three components: a component devoted to public murals involving poster art, a lecture series which the Georgia Tech architecture department has agree to host for us, and a that of a gallery opening taking place at the Eyedrum. The poster art show will precede all other events the prior to August 13, 2010. On Friday August 13th, the event will consist of a lecture series held at Georgia Tech. On Saturday August 14th, the event will consist of an exhibition and Pecha Kucha-style presentations held at Eyedrum. The gallery exhibition will be on display in Eyedrum’s galleries from August 13 through the end of September and will commemorate the various public walls around the city blanketed by the wheat pastes.
Inspired and aligned with the open source and free culture movement, driving many poster art (wheat pasting) shows that have happened internationally: Benevento, Turin, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, etc. These other poster art shows have been pieced together by colleagues of the curators of the Living Walls conference. The intentions behind our show are aligned with the same set of values. This alignment has embedded us in a network of street artists who willingly support our efforts. Thus we know there is a critical mass of street artists engaged in poster art all over Europe and South America willing to answer an open call to submit to our show. Along with all this we have three artists contributing to our event who have agreed to act as our liaisons over seas in Berlin, Brazil and Australia. Our liaisons have agreed to collect submissions from around the world and ship posters from over seas to us. An open call for artists will soon be put out asking for poster submissions. These posters will be wheat pasted blanketing a few public walls around Atlanta which we have gained permission for. All these public works will be thoroughly documented for display within the gallery component.
We are very thankful to the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech who have agreed to support this conference through hosting a lecture series and providing space for other activities. We intend to have a series of lectures the day before the gallery show in order to promote the gallery show itself as well as to engage and inform a different audience that would otherwise not attend the gallery show.
Gallery show: Select artists, along with contributing to the poster show, will display their work within eyedrum. All artist are asked present some kind of documentation regarding their specific artistic process. This documentation itself will be on display within the gallery and is intended to illustrate all that is entailed in the act of making street art. Also on display will be the documentation of the prior week’s events, the wheat pasting of the submitted posters. On the opening day of the gallery show we will have a pecha kucha* like event, where selected artist and lecturers will present 20 slides. Each slide will be displayed for 20 seconds, yielding a total presentation of about 7 min in length. The pace of these presentations has a unique way engaging an audience with an entertaining, yet informative slew of ideas.
I have been given permission to post Kurt Iveson's Paper, Branded Cities. It is an extremely important read, particularly in relation to my last post on PosterBoy and his incredibly unjust arrest and incarceration. For anyone interested in the intersection of public communication, outdoor commercial media and a democratic public space, please download and read immediately. It is well worth your time...I promise. [Branded Cities]
PosterBoy Arrest and the Need For A Democratic Outdoor Media Landscape
You may or may not know that PosterBoy, a friend and colleague in the battle to re-imagine our public media landscape, was sentenced to 11 months at Rikers island for the defacement of CBS Outdoor's subway advertisements in NYC. RJ at Vandalog expressed what I believe to be most peoples reaction to this sentence very clearly in a recent post on the topic. You should also immediately join the Free Posterboy Facebook page so there is at least a document of the outrage in numbers. I personally have yet to weigh in on this disturbing turn of events, partially because I am upset, and partially because I feel that beyond decrying the injustice that this sentence invokes, a real explanation as to why PosterBoy's actions are not criminal but rather a protest of the current monopolization of public space by large multinational corporations like CBS outdoor, has yet to be laid bare.
Timing being on our side for some reason, I was just sent the most incredible academic paper I have ever read on the topic, written by Kurt Iveson at the University of Sydney, school of Geosciences. In this paper he argues for a more democratic outdoor media landscape that addresses the concerns of the multiple public's which make up our shared urban environments. He obviously sees the need for open forms of outdoor communication in order to address the multiple public identities that make up our cities, as well as take advantage of the cosmopolitan nature of city residents in order to fulfill the great potential of our public environment and our cities as a whole. In the paper he points out that the new neo-liberal arrangements between outdoor advertising companies and public authorities to supply public services in exchange for exclusive advertising rights (like the arrangement between CBS outdoor and the Metropolitan Transit Authority) are expediting the monopolization of outdoor media opportunities across the board. Interestingly enough, the recent attack on our long time rival NPA by the NYC DOB (and NYSAT) can be seen as yet another way the city and large multinational outdoor advertising firms are joining forces to control outdoor advertising, and media opportunities in general. Essentially the city is saying away with the illegal, under the radar advertising, we will control where and when this media is placed without concern for whether or not the media being presented reflects the concerns of the residents of our city. Im still not okay with NPA's abuse of public space but there is an argument to be made that their non authorized use of the public environment might be one step better than overt control by NYC.
That said, I do not believe there is any way that advertising can exist in public without serious detriment to the residents of this city. We may argue for a more democratic use of the the outdoor media landscape but PublicAdCampaign's goal is ultimately its elimination from our shared public spaces.
In regards to Henry Matyjewicz (herein referred to as PosterBoy), he was not only making critical comments on the content of advertising with his work, but in doing so he was also making a critique on the form of advertising in major metropolitan cities. Where are the public's outdoor media opportunities in a city where public communications like street art are criminalized while the city champions full scale media buyouts by corporations intent on presenting messages of a singular commercial nature? As Kurt points out in his paper Branded Cities, our public media opportunities are fading fast and ultimately to the detriment of the residents of this city as well as the vibrancy of the city in general. Locking up Posterboy for addressing this incredibly important social health issue is not dissimilar from locking up any other number of civil protestors whose right to peaceful protest is secured by our constitution. (I'm not so naive that I do not understand the arguments against this claim to constitutional protection, but my belief in non-violent civil disobedience makes what Posterboy does civil protest in the most accepted form) If some eggs need to be broken (ads defaced) to bring this issue to light, so be it. Posterboy's incarceration is political silencing on behalf of a regime of publicity run by CBS outdoor and the City of New York. Maybe the judge, in his determination should have realized Posterboy's work is less vandalism than it is protest of how our public space is being sold to the highest bidder without concern for the public's interest in outdoor media communication. A better deliberation would have addressed this issue and questioned why, out of the hundreds of thousands of advertisements that are forced upon subway riders on a daily basis, is no space included for public thought. As well he might have used Posterboy's protest to question why a billion dollar outdoor advertising business is not benefiting our urban infrastructure and the cash strapped MTA more than the pitiful amount that it is now.
Either way the whole debacle wreaks of injustice and a city without the proper legal structures to address political dissension in public space. This was clear with the NYSAT arrests as well, and is a major issue we will all face as our urban spaces become less accessible and our need to protest this monopolization grows. PosterBoy's arrest goes far beyond street art and graffiti and raises serious questions about who has the right to access our public space. I don't care if you think Posterboy is wrong, the questions his work raises about the monopolization and control of our public environment are well worth the petty damage incurred at CBS's expense. The answers which might be plumbed from the depths of his artistic process could potentially have serious benefits for all of us and should therefore be taken seriously by our city authorities. As well, his incarceration and the antagonistic attitude of the DA in dealing with his case shows that the city is less intent on hearing the concerns of its residents as they enact their civic duties in NY's vibrant culture, and are more interested in treating us as criminals without a vital role in the exuberance of the streets we live on.
I am awaiting the Authors permission to make the full Branded Cities paper available for download. If permission is granted I will make the publication available as soon as I can. Until then...
Branded Cities Abstract:
"In many cities both rich and poor, new forms of outdoor advertising are emerging with potentially significant implications for the nature of the urban public realm. Public-private partnerships for advertising-funded provision of basic items of urban infrastructure such as bus shelters, street signs and public telephones have grown as a result of shifts towards neoliberal forms of urban governance. This article critically interogates the inplications of these new outdoor advertising arrangements for the urban public realm, and argues that they have potentially harmful consequences for the accessibility and diversity of the outdoor media landscape. It then proposes three strategies for the democratization of the outdoor media landscape. These strategies are not premised on an outright rejection of outdoor advertising, but rather seek to contest the monopolistic capture of outdoor media by public-private partnerships involving urban authorities and outdoor advertising companies."
Fauxreel's latest intervention: "the idea is based on two different trains of thought... selling something to people that they don't need... when i researched this, i discovered that one of the most over reaching markets in this sense was for products created for babies, actually products created for parents who think they need to keep up with the jones'... the other thing i noticed through doing this research was that people, especially in canada, are having children later in life... buying a plastic baby might help those who don't have one of their own yet to feel like they belong... which is what advertising is all about... selling you something you don't need so you'll feel like you belong... so why not sell the whole baby to the folks not ready for one... completely ridiculous, perhaps slightly offensive, absolutely fun. " Check out Carl's website. See more by Fauxreel. artist: Fauxreel location: Toronto, Canada
If you are a regular PublicAdcampaign reader you will know we have been in close contact with a new outdoor advertising company called Mediacy, perpetrators of the new Gatescape advertising format. Our relationship developed after we received a press release for thier services months before they had even registered as an OAC, something which is illegal in its own right. We were concerned both with this new format in general, as well as the potential illegality of the entire operation. Long story short is we met with the founder Michael Gitter to discuss strategies which might use this new advertising format as a force for good. The final PublicAdCampaign proposal relied on Mediacy dedicating 51% of their locations to artists, something we vowed to help them with if they would agree to this single term which to us was the only way that this unwanted advertising would be in service of art as opposed to artwork serving the advertising and Mediacy as a whole.
This proposal did not pan out for obvious reasons and our strained relationship has teetered on and off as our conversations/arguments have continued over the past few months. Without much headway being made, I had forgotten about Mediacy partially because I really haven't seen any Gatescape advertising around New York. Recently I came across the above image, a self advertisement for Mediacy's Gatescapes. Now initially PublicAdCampaign's arguments against Mediacy were met by Mr. Gitter's insistence that Gatescapes would actually create a more aesthetic environment, combatting what are often graffiti bombed roll down gates in NY. I argued that 12'x20' street level advertisements were not an improvement to the public expression many call graffiti, but in the end this was a matter of opinion and we were left at a stalemate.
After seeing this new self advertisement for Mediacy I was reminded that the whole aesthetic improvement argument was another sham perpetrated by Mediacy to help them sleep better at night and improve their selling points for potential advertising clients. I think we can all agree that the garish orange and purple vinyl sticker is an eyesore at best. I contacted Mr. Gitter about this and I received an immediate response in agreement, which was cc'd to Mediacy's artistic curator Julia Lazarus. Apparently they were both in agreement with me and were coming up with new options. Now here is where things get interesting.
Mediacy is faced with a problem. They have hundreds of locations around NY and LA waiting to be purchased by advertisers. These locations are a new format and not on the radar of most potential clients. Their problem has become getting the word out, or essentially advertising their services. These new vinyl ads for themselves not only look terrible, but advertising for yourself also looks desperate. Along side these facts, Mediacy has also promised to present artwork as part of its proposed dedication to the cities it operates in, although I would argue the presentation of artwork is meant to shine the blinding light of altruism over their occupation of our city with unwanted commercial content.
That said I recently received a phone call from a good friend, street artist, and NYSAT participant. (I will not divulge the artists name as I believe he is still in talks with Mediacy about potential agreements) This artist had been offered 30 Gatescapes by Mediacy around NYC and wanted my advice on whether or not to participate. Each Gatescape would have the artists contact info as well as Mediacy's information printed in some small font at the bottom of each image. I was infuriated by this fact for a number of reasons, first being that Mediacy has continually denounced the NYSAT activities and its participants, as well as what I thought was an obvious play to use a young talent to promote Mediacy's agenda, mainly attracting potential advertising clients.
Mr. Gitter scoffed at the idea that the 30 Gatescapes offered were nothing more than Mediacy using an artist and their work as a better alternative to their garish purple and orange self advertising but the facts seem to say otherwise. Why would Mediacy offer 30 locations to the same artist if the intention behind presenting art was to promote local talents. Would it not be better to use Julia, the in house curator, to actually curate a group of artists so that NYC would be presented with a wide array of talents? Offering 30 locations to a single artist seems more like a quick fix for a problem of low visibility. Now if the problem is simply low visibility, Mediacy could just print out 30 more of those awful self advertisements, but again they look horrendous and we all know it. A better marketing solution is to use the same money that would be used to print the self ads to print artwork. The artwork will serve the same purpose as the self ads while looking like Mediacy is in it for the people. To me, all of this is relatively self evident although I'm sure from different perspectives, one could argue otherwise.
I am writing this as much for the artist in question as I am for myself. Indeed the presentation of ones work at 30 prime street level locations around NYC is a fantastic opportunity for any artist looking to put themselves in a more visible position. The problem is not whether or not to promote ones own work but in the end who your work is actually serving beyond yourself, and who it might be potentially hurting, the public. In this case the artwork is serving the artist, but also an outdoor advertising company that intends to litter our streets with unwanted commercial copy. Mediacy will surely find an artist willing to overlook the fact that their work will be used to further Mediacy's presence and control of our city's streets. Even without artistic help, they will almost inevitably find advertisers along the way and in the end fulfill their goal of abusing public space, but as artists is our own self promotion worth cozying up to a company who's ultimate goal is the destruction of our shared public environment? There are so many other ways to promote our work, and do so in a fashion which does not jeopardize both the city we live in and the integrity of our artistic talents which we work so hard to cultivate.
Ultimately I think this all really comes down to how we feel about our city streets and their use for commercial content. I truly believe that the outdoor media landscape, now controlled by advertising which silences many other forms of public discourse by monetizing public space and overwhelming other forms of public address, is in need of our protection. What is at stake is a democratic space meant to sustain all forms of public communication being overrun by commercial enterprises intent on controlling those public communications. It is important as artists and public citizens that we use our shared public spaces to communicate with one another, but as well to address the outdoor advertising industry's control of that space. To do this we must understand that our participation in the outdoor advertising industry, even if it is through our own artwork, feeds this system of control and further prevents our communities use of the public environment for what are incredibly important alternative public thoughts and ideas which fall outside of the current advertising/authorized uses of public space. If we imagine an outdoor media landscape that fulfills its goal of presenting all forms of public address, we simply cannot promote a system which not only silences and criminalizes unauthorized public communications, but in doing so also controls what other forms of address besides the commercial, are presented on our city streets.
Project Art Cart-Bringing Art to the City Without an Agenda?
A while back I developed a quaint relationship with a small NYC marketing firm based on our mutual hatred for NPA, now Contest Promotions. They had run into some legal trouble as it seemed their illegal wildposting business was conflicting with NPA's illegal wildposting business. Essentially NPA filed suit against them which they could not afford to fight and therefore were strong armed into loosing a few of their big clients. It's a rough business apparently.
Obviously I have been tentative to embrace this company as they work with commercial clients very often, the result of which is unwanted advertising on our city streets. That said these guys are also very local and trying hard to support local talents and arts programs in ways which respect the city streets and are not selfish uses of artistic talent to promote a larger agenda. (more on this in the next post)
After NPA's recent fall and the resulting white boards strewn around manhattan, Paper- Spaceship, took advantage of the liberated locations at least once. They explained to me that they were trying to promote local artists, although I took issue with the action because each poster had a small logo and website making the "artwork" an advertisement.
Just a few days ago I was sent word of a new project they are working on with Five Inch Monster called Project Art Cart. The idea is to use local artists to adorn the street vendor carts in NYC with local talent. Obviously I was concerned that this stunt might be another marketing tactic to promote a model which would eventually result in more unwanted commercial messages, but it appears to be on the up and up. I asked Paper-Spaceship to explain the business model hoping to figure out if there was some other motive besides a more aesthetic vending experience. This is what they told me.
Project Art Cart is a side project that myself and a local artist have organized to continue our efforts to promote the unrecognized emerging NYC art scene. We're interesting in improving the urban community by enhancing the aesthetic of city streets all while providing a unique platform for emerging artists to showcase their talents – we look at it as a win/win situation for artists and the everyday street walking New Yorker. Besides branding each cart with the Project Art Cart logo and slapping on a URL to direct anyone that is interested in contributing, the real sponsor here is the artist themselves.
Provided this project doesn't spin itself into some new venue for outdoor advertising and these carts remain adorned with artwork and not Calvin Klein ads, I think this is a good thing. It may not be the most interesting public art I can think of but it is nonetheless art on the streets with no visible strings attached. If you would like to participate, I would reach out to the the project managers and see if you can submit your designs for evaluation.
Mr Dimmagio is Not a baseball Player and Neither Am I
There has been a lot going on with NPA these days. Mostly, the NYSAT project and the NYC DOB have reigned in the illegal wildposting they have been perpetrating on the city for a long time. The result of this was initially the whitewashing of many of their illegal locations and subsequently the removal of many of the illegal ad frames. In an effort to remind both the city and NPA that the remaining locations they are operating under the guise of legality and the Contest Promotions business model are still a clear abuse of the public environment, I have continued to hit what is left with Weave it! images. Along with my own efforts, I have had some international help, including one of my favorite ad takeover specialists, OX. Recently Mr. Dimaggio came into town and he had a few images to post as well. Apparently when Mr. Dimaggio was younger people asked him if he was related to the baseball great. As you can tell by his response, he was not. Mr. Dimaggio is not a baseball player, he is a street artist with a cause.
So I have been on a crazy long photo job that stole a week of my life, which is why I have not posted in a while. There are so many posts that I have waiting. I'm sorry. That said, I just spoke with one of the organizers of the Living Walls conference coming up in Atlanta. She has been in conversation with one of the NPA employees from Atlanta and they are worried about PublicAdCampaign coming into town in August. I told her that I thought it would be a good idea to invite NPA to speak at the conference as dialogue and conversation is the most important aspect of the PAC project. I truly hope that we get a chance to have a discussion with NPA, the employees, or anyone involved in the wildposting of commercial messages in relation to street art and open public communication. Ever since we launched the NYSAT project, I have been interested in what our influence has been, and I think this is a real opportunity to delve into what a direct action community project can do.
I look forward to talking with employees of NPA in Atlanta and having a serious open discussion about how their actions might affect the community at large. Look out for more details as things unfold.
If I had to single out one horrible thing that I never want to see/hear in my life, it would be 25 twitching, singing wall fish burping out “Shake Your Booty” by KC & the Sunshine Band. Well, so much for that.
Frozen seafood company Findus wanted to alert Parisians to the fact that they are committed to responsibly sourced fish. So, their agency, Grey Paris, put up this invasive billboard in Rue de Passy. The fish are activated by a motion detector. And since this is of course a busy pedestrian area of the city, the fish must pretty much be singing that fucking song 24/7. How much fun it must be to live in close proximity to this thing? Now if they sang this ditty instead… |Video: BAOTV|
'Department of Advertising Correction' hijacks UK political billboards
It seems outdoor advertising takeovers are becoming prevalent forms of public communications these days. Citizens, fed up with the one way messages attempting to lure our attention away from one another and focus our senses on private concerns, are taking their thoughts to the streets in droves. In doing so they are not only constructing a public space where our individual voices shape our communal public concerns, but questioning advertising's use of our shared environment for private messages. It is fantastic!
"A white utility van emblazoned with the logo of the "Shoreditch Department of Advertising Correction" has been taking over political billboards in East London, changing Conservative Party ads to poetic or sometimes political ends. The group sends a press release and a series of photos of the billboard modifications, which started appearing around Old Street and Shoreditch High Street on April 19." [MORE HERE]
As advertising creeps deeper into our public lives we become more and more comfortable with it's pervasiveness, and become less aware of the conflicting interests advertising might have with those public identities we wish to cultivate in our shared spaces. To combat this ad creep we have setup guidelines of what appropriate spaces for advertising might be. Each town, city, state, etc. makes its own rules regarding this issue. It seems as if Georgia might be one of the first states to break with tradition and allow advertising into one of our most sacred public spaces, state parks.
In a recent NPR report on Georgia's proposal to fund its state park system with commercial ad revenue, Neil Herring, a Georgia Sierra Club lobbyist, explains his concerns like this "It's a place for people to get away from that[ads], it's a refuge, that's why it's a park." My only wish would be that we extend the same concerns to our city streets that we extend to our great public parks. As city residents, the streets are our refuge and should be treated accordingly.
Jaguar Takes Advantage of Shepard Fairey Craze at Houston and Bowery
Shepard Fairey has recently provided New York with a slew of murals over the past two weeks. Whether people like or dislike the Obey craze seems to have a lot to do with how they feel about the recent meteoric rise of street artists like Shepard and Banksy to international notoriety. Many people seem to hate the alleged commercialization of urban art and its loss of authenticity in the process. My opinions on this matter are often decided on a case by case basis as the nuances associated with working in both the public and private are many.
What I do not appreciate is the obvious branding synergy allowed between Shepard's Houston Street Art Mural and the giant automaker Jaguar. Being unsure of who is responsible for the enormous ad projection, I am not sure where to lay blame. Maybe the building owner at 294 Bowery (the property directly behind the Shepard Mural) realized he was sitting on a gold mine. Maybe Jeffrey Dietch realized he could use the energy around Shepard's recent exhibition to capitalize on a brand synergy opportunity. Or maybe the outdoor advertising world realized that what is normally a highly trafficked intersection was now one of the most visited locations in the city for young and hip culture hunters. Either way I hope that Shepard, if he was unaware of how his work was being co-opted, sees this and denounces it as a shameful abuse of his creative process.
We are obviously fans of unauthorized direct action public projects. Time and again the sheer sincerity of a person or persons time, energy, and investment in their community can result in permanent change. The Astoria Scum River Project is as clear an example of this that I know of.
Elbow Toe Goes Over White NPA Billboard at 24th and 10th SWC
Looks as if Elbow Toe decided to adorn one of the recently whitewashed illegal NPA billboards. His work is absolutely amazing and if the world was right this location would be reserved for him to create an ongoing exhibition of some of his incredible wheat pastes and drawings.