Friday, September 4, 2009

Paper Tiger Video - April 25th NYSAT Project

This video was created by my good friends over at Paper Tiger TV, a non-profit volunteer video collective. It was very close to the project go date when they interviewed me and I was running on less than optimal sleep. Some of the other people they talked to had some incredible things to say about their reasons for participating and their motivations. Thanks again to Sarah Strahan and everyone who worked on the video. With such a fast recovery by NPA City Outdoor, these small snippets of what happened are all that's left of a lot of hard work by a huge group of incredible people.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

NYSAT Photo From Joe's NYC

A good friend just sent me this photo from the first NYSAT project last April 25th. The image came from Joe's NYC run by Joseph O. Holmes. There's nothing like an empty canvas to inspire the musings of passerbys, or in this case leave your attention clear so you can concentrate on the NFT guide in front of your face.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Adbusters Article-Fantastic

What I like about this article is that at by the end you know this project was part of a movement, and that gives the movement momentum. Thanks to Sarah Berman and Ji lee.

VIA AdbustersJi Lee –

Last month, dozens of New York artists and activists battled the clutter of consumerism in a guerrilla-style billboard takeover. Mobilized by Jordan Seiler and the Public Ad Campaign, the 24-hour direct action replaced nearly 19,000 square feet of illegal advertising with original, anti-corporate street art.

Blueprints for the ambitious aesthetic revolution took shape years ago, when Seiler found that thousands of New York’s posters and billboards were not properly licensed. Some ads, he discovered, violated bylaws that have been on city books since the 1940s.

“Outdoor advertising is the primary obstacle to open public communications,”Seiler explains on his website, “Through bold acts of civil disobedience we hope to air our grievances in the court of public opinion and witness our communities regain control of the space they occupy.”

Armed with paint rollers, spray cans and video equipment, activists took to the streets on April 25th wearing florescent orange construction vests. (Covertness, it seemed, was not a top priority). The mixed brigade of culture jammers — ranging from artists and architects to software developers and bio-physicists — swiftly whitewashed 126 of the offending advertisements.

Calling themselves the Municipal Landscape Control Committee, the team turned the newly-buffed billboards into multimedia art. Across Manhattan, walls that formerly peddled electronics, designer clothes and alcohol were reclaimed in the name of peace, laughter and high-fives.

For a fleeting moment, it seemed democracy itself had burst through New York’s thick clouds of visual pollution. Instead of noisy and intrusive ads, passersby freely engaged with refreshing open-source canvasses. It was an artful and symbolic warning aimed at billboard companies that unlawfully reap profits from citizen-owned spaces.

Unsurprisingly, the artistic uprising was not without casualties. One artist, two whitewashers and a videographer were arrested by New York police — one of whom is still fighting criminal charges. And, because of the city’s utter lack of enforcement, many of the same illegal ads were replaced the very next day.

Such flagrant disregard for the quality and character of public space has been met with passionate outrage across the globe. In places like Los Angeles, Toronto and Paris, creative communities are developing new ways to investigate billboards and combat illegal advertisements.

The omnipresence of insipid "buy me" schlock isn’t exclusive to the world’s metropolises. Indeed, the battle for a clear and democratic mindscape can be fought and won at all fronts. Visit or and learn how you can take back the streets in your hometown.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jake Price Image from NYSAT Project

photo by Jake Price

Just came across this getting some documentation together for the NYSAT project. Thought it a nice image to look at.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

NYSAT Project Map Now Public


It's been three weeks since the NYSAT project took place on April 25th. I am just now making the project map public. In an attempt to build a coherent vision of what took place the 25th, this map offers images of 189 NPA city Outdoor advertising locations. Of those 189, nearly 130 show their progression from illegal ad locations, to whitewashed messaging boards, to artworks and communications created by concerned public individuals. The project, Lasting not much more than 24hrs, covered nearly 19,000 square feet of illegal advertising. Responses ranged in emotion, but were abundantly positive and often expressed interest in repeating the project.

To all of those who participated, I hope you had as much fun as I did. I hope you came away empowered to use your communications to envision alternative uses of our shared public spaces. I hope to work with you again in the future.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If the Laws Aren't Enforced, Who Cares What The Laws Are?

This article from the NYCity NewsService, is about a bill being proposed to New York City which would legalize the now illegal practice called sniping. "The bill, proposed Council member Melinda Katz (D-Queens), would legalize advertising on construction sheds that cover sidewalks when buildings undergo exterior construction."

Sniping, or Wildposting, despite being illegal, is carried out on a daily basis by NPA City Outdoor and is happening while you read this. In fact, if you visit NPA's website, they will explain to you the different levels of sniping they offer, including Traditional Wildposting, Dedicated Locations, Dedicated Spectaculars, and City Wide Domination Buys. I find the language they use incredibly offensive and quite amazing. The last thing we want as a public are ads, "dominating" the city, and yet that is what is proposed.

Traditional Wildposting

Does no one realize that a law dedicated to preventing Wildposting does not matter and an article about whether the law will disappear in favor of outdoor advertising's abuse of public space is a completely moot point? If we see Wildposting all over the city on every surface, construction sites included, and the company doing the work is vocal about its practices, then for all intents and purposes these ads are not illegal to begin with. Clearly the city already condones this behavior.

I know having laws on the books criminalizing Wildposting activities would help us to combat the issue, if ever we decided it was time to clean the visual blight off our city streets. I get that. I cannot help but continue to see the law as a rouse crafted to appease the public while gifting the outdoor advertising industry full use of our public environment. This is especially true in light of the fact that 4 people were arrested by the NYPD, during the NYSAT project this last April. These individuals were trying to highlight the fact that NPA was operating illegally in our city and that our current law should allow the city to do something about it. Instead of being listened to these individuals spent the weekend in jail.

When laws are so blatantly disregarded by all parties involved, maybe they were never laws at all.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

RocketBoom Video

Special thanks to RocketBoom, Andrew and Ronen for making the RocketBoom video possible. It's wonderful to watch these illegal ad locations go mute, and wonder what the city might put up for itself if given the opportunity.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

I AM And Posterchild Time Lapse For NYSAT

Posterchild came down from Canada to Participate in the NYSAT project that happened April 25th of last month. Him and I AM not only managed to grab several amazing locations, but to time lapse the whole process. Here are the fantastic results.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Loie Merrit-One Artist's Experience

After talking to Loie Merrit about her experience with the NYSAT project, it became clear that there was a lot of interaction taking place between the whitewashers, artists, and the public. I asked her to write down what happened, and it turns out to be a great example of how this project raised awareness about how the public can participate in the construction of its shared visual environment. If there are any other participants that have an interesting story from the 25th, please email them to me and I will post them accordingly.

Loie talking to the tenants that live upstairs from the illegal advertisement she was painting on.

"As I finished my piece on the corner of Hooper and Borinquen, a couple approached me asking what I was doing. I explained the mass artistic protest that was occurring all around the city. After informing them that NPA Outdoor illegally achieves their outdoor advertising, they confided in me that they live in the building I was working on. According to them, on a daily basis one or two people come by at all hours of the day and put up the awful advertising that nobody residing in the building particularly wants to look at. Not only is the advertising unwanted, but they also told me that the people posting are incredibly rude! "We don't want these advertisements here," they said "They look awful and just prove to us that our capitalistic society has gone to shit!" During our conversation the couple expressed full support for what me and the other artists were doing, "We think it's awesome! We always thought they owned the space and we had no choice, it never occurred to us to just take the advertising down. We're so happy to have seen you out here. What you're doing should happen everywhere. And you guys are inspiring. Why shouldn't we take back the space that's ours!" This is just one example of the kind of support I experienced that afternoon. With any luck those people that did witness a white washer or artist at work will spread the word, and maybe even produce something of their own. We're living in a unique time and it is only through these types of movements that we will ever be able to challenge the money-hungry, socially corrupt, artistically bankrupt establishment."

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

WNYC New York

I was asked to be on WNYC earlier this week and obviously jumped at the opportunity. For a section called "Your Uncommon Economic Indicators", Mr. Lehrer talks about different things around the city which might give us a glimpse into the economy where we wouldn't expect one. The first part of this section is a discussion with Clear Channel Spectracolor president, Harry Coglin and Liz Goldwin, a video artist. They talk about a recent collaboration in Times Square that gives Liz use of Clear Channel's digital technology for her artwork. There is little mention of whether or not this is actually because the billboard space isn't selling well these days, or because Clear Channel suddenly decided it was time to dabble in the arts, but my guess is it's the former. Around 7 minutes in, Brian Talks with me about the PublicAdCampaign Project. I must admit I was a little nervous.

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Metro New York On NYSAT

Despite the negative connotations associated with the word Graffiti, I'm happy this article appeared in Metro New York. One important correction should be made, and that is that we did this in broad daylight. The idea that we were sneaking around at night while the city slept is just wrong. In fact this project was done on one of the first gorgeous days in the city, April 25th, and prompted the participation of numerous unsuspecting citizens who found themselves caught up in the construction of our shared visual environment. It was a wonderfully democratic use of public space and a new experience for the city as a whole.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

And They All Fall Down-Team 1

Team 1 had the wherewithal to "intervelometer" their entire whitewashing escapade. It should give you a good idea of how much space each team was responsible for. JPH and CB, love you guys. thanks a bunch for the fantastic footage. truly a gem.

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Upcoming NYSAT Map

I should be plugging in all of the images that will help to complete the map of all the locations that were taken over on April 25th for the NYSAT project, but it is taking longer than expected and I wanted to offer a glimpse of what I'm up to. This is a screen shot of what a single location will look like once the map is finished. Each location will have an image with advertising, with a whitewash, and if art was produced afterward, that too. Once the map is public, I will be asking people to add any other anecdotes to the locations they worked on as well.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

And we love for everything they have ever done for the cause and then all those things that you don't know they did for the cause, and then all those things that they will do for the cause that you cant even imagine yet. Read a recent Interview we did with them [Here]

And then there is still Walker Tieser.

This guy put his life on the line and then put it on show again after the cops told him to move on. He might be a new fav, cause it takes a few to do what he do.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

NYSAT-In The Van & On The Street

photo-Jim Kiernan

photo-Georgia Nerheim

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Jake Price-NYSAT Images

It will take me a long time to go through some of the great imagery that people took away from the NYSAT project on the 25th. Maybe that's a good thing as content will be unfolding for a while. I grabbed this image from Jake Price's website. It's part of the series "While You Weren't Watching" that isn't actually up on the site yet. Seems like some of the whitewashers had the wherewithal to leave the "hopeless" text uncovered, ripe for an intervention like this. Amazing.

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Walker Teiser Gets Arrested, But Not Before He Creates Something Amazing For You & Me

This video is all that remains of a huge piece Walker Teiser was working on for an alleged 4 hrs at the corner of 19th street and 10th avenue on the 25th of April. What I have gathered from him after he was released on the 26th, having spent 25hrs in custody, is that he had been approached multiple times by the authorities. His brazen attitude and young spirit told him to continue to work in broad daylight, despite what I hope his better judgment was telling him. Notice the care he took not to damage the city sidewalk and properly create his mural.

Initially it was two undercover officers that approached him, upon which he brandished the letter artists were allowed to carry describing their activities. This seemed to suffice, and the police quickly moved on after taking some interest in what he was doing artistically. The second time he was approached it was by two plain clothes officers who were much more difficult with him, but ultimately allowed him to continue painting. They questioned the letters authenticity, which was smart of them given there were no signatures on it, a dead giveaway that the work order was illegitimate.

The third time Walker was stopped, it was under the direction of the same man who had had the initial two whitewashers arrested. Both Walker and the initial two arrested described the man who had called the cops as "a tall man, with a large beer belly, in a tight white polo collared shirt". It was this same man that I sat next to in the 9th precinct while the two whitewashers were being processed. I was able to see him pass his business card to the detective assigned the case, and sure enough he was from NPA City Outdoor. From what I gathered through snippets of his cell phone conversations I overheard while siting next to him in the station, we ruined his day at the marina.

It seems NPA caught on to the whole affair quite early, having threatened team 13 within a half hour of their start. Team 13 called me early and said they could not continue whitewashing as the NPA employees were very aggressive and they were actually frightened and worried about thier physical safety. I asked them to meet me at a rendezvous point where by chance they happened to watch another team calmly paint their way paste them. When I met them an hour after their initial call, they had realized that the had been unnerved by the NPA employees, but were more than willing to continue to paint provided I joined them. This was good because it gave me a chance to get my hands dirty.

NPA, un-prepared to deal with something like this must have gone into a small panic. Sometime before 3pm our white Polo shirt aggressor took it upon himself to roam the city streets looking for perpetrators. He is responsible for calling the cops to both scenes and pressing charges. I am in talks with my friends about how we should deal with these arrests, which were unwarranted and possibly illegal. As of now we are dealing with finding a time lapse video the cops took from walker and his co-defendant which proves his co-defendants innocence, as well as dealing with the disorderly conduct charges which remain on the two whitewashers. Until then enjoy this video.

Walker we thank you for your dedication to the production of public space by public individuals. Keep up the good work.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

NYSAT-Whitewash Video

In a cruel twist of fate that I'm sure will not go unnoticed by NPA, I have come down with strep and it has prevented me from doing anything but lie in bed. I am attaching a video shot by team 3 of the NYSAT project to fill my posting void but also because is it indicative of the kind of day everyone who worked on this project had.

These two guys were amazing, and I hope to continue figuring out ways to work with them in the future. The video is a montage of the locations they whitewashed, first with ads, and then the white after they had done their work. I think around 5:18 you get to see them do some real whitewashing. They signed up for no other reason than they thought it was a good cause and I commend their efforts. As far as I understand, they had never done anything like this project and they took it very seriously, maybe too seriously. It must have been hot in those painters outfits.

Regardless, I think the overwhelming exuberance on their faces is testament to how incredibly invigorating and empowering reclaiming your public space is. The music choice they made might also be an indicator. In fact reclaiming doesn't even have to be a part of it, many of the artists who simply created work over these whitewashed spaces came away with similar faces filled with excitement. Being able to alter your public visual environment is an important part of becoming invested in that space. It is important that the city acknowledge this and find ways for its citizens to create murals, and do public works. This is an overwhelming task but one the citizens are willing to take on themselves, in the form of public school murals, graffiti murals, local hero memorials, and the numerous other form of public visual works that may be dreamed of if the spaces used for advertising are given back to the people of this city.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NYSAT-Barbara Celis Video

Artist- NohJ Photo-Courtesy of the artist

Barbara Celis is a journalist that writes for El Pais, a spanish newspaper. Her dedication to capturing as much as she could of the NYSAT project has resulted in the first blog post regarding the event, and now this video which she just posted this morning. Although the video privileges the art aspect of this takeover, I want to be clear that many non-artists participated in this event including an architect, a bio-physicist, a sports writer, a software developer, and countless others. More than about art, this project was about public participation in the visual construction of their shared environment.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The MLCC Hard At Work

Photo-Will Sherman (

I kept this information internal for a while and then realized that there is no reason to do so. There were four arrests in total on the 25th. This included 2 whitewashers, one artist, and one videographer. The whitewashers were picked up at 3:00pm in the Lower East Side and spent a heroic 40 hrs in central booking. After being charged with criminal mischief the DA reduced that charge to disorderly conduct. Although this is a violation and not a crime, it is still unacceptable and we will fight this to the best of our ability. The artist was arraigned around 8pm on the 26th after having spent approximately 25hrs in jail. He was let off with an ACD and 2 days community service. The videographer doing timelapse of the artist at work did not fair so well and is still being brought up on charges. We are also attempting to deal with these charges. As these issues progress we will keep readers up to date as much as we can and will be asking supporters to come down to the trial and show solidarity for those who were casualties of what was otherwise an incredibly successful project, if need be.

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I AM Sums It Up In With A High Five

Okay, there was so much amazing work made Saturday that I'm hesitant to post anything until it all sits together in some democratic space similar to the public environment is was created in and for. That said this piece by I AM sums up my sentiments about the project as a whole.

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NYSAT-The Municipal Landscape Control Committee

MOMO-courtesy of the artist

Sorry for the lack of posting about the April 25th NYSAT event, I am desperately trying to gather all of the documentation and not release anything before a good portion of the picture is painted.

In an attempt to document all aspects of this project, a map has been created which shows all of the illegal signage operated by NPA that I could find in a four day period below 30th street and above canal street in NYC. I will be adding images of both the whitewashed spaces and the artwork, as a counterpoint to the images I have already put on the map showing the spaces with the usual ad content. This will be made available in the next day or two and will be open to the artists to edit themselves. I hope they will take the opportunity to add anecdotes, stories, links and other relevant information as a way of building a participant generated document of this public event.

Until then, please search for the project under NYSAT or The Municipal Landscape Control Committee. People have also been listing it under street art takeover, public ad takeover etc.

Thanks again to all the participants.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Something Happened Yesterday

An eye for an eye...Laura Meyers-Courtesy of PublicAdCampaign

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