Monday, March 1, 2010

Interview For

Our good friend Carolyn Tripp at asked us to answer some questions regarding the last NYSAT project that took place on October 25th. Yesterday they posted our responses.

Jordan Seiler and the many participants of New York Street Advertising Takeover (NYSAT, a sister project of PublicAdCampaign) have completed yet another round of murals on top of the illegally posted billboards on the island of Manhattan in NYC. This campaign was largely in protest against NPA Outdoor, one of the city’s largest contractor for billboards and large-scale advertisements. [More Here]

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's Official, The New York Street Advertising Takeover Microsite Is Up

Monday morning at approximately 11:00am the final 3 arrested NYSAT participants had their cases dismissed because the NPA employees who called the police on them failed to sign the deposition in order move forward with the case. This is the same thing that happened with all 9 of the arrests associated with the two NYSAT projects and is an indication that NPA is not interested in a legal battle because they know what they are doing is illegal and would rather sweep controversy under the rug. Now that our participants are safe, our lawyers have told us we can finally launch the official NYSAT website.

On this website you will find an immense amount of information regarding the projects including, project documentation, maps, video, press, information on NPA, information on how to identify and report illegal signage, and a description of how you too can create a public intervention of your own.

We would like to thank everyone involved in this project whose participation made it possible to create such a large scale public intervention that not only benefited the participants but the city at large. We have been continually impressed with the level of commitment NYC residents have to their city and their shared public spaces. It is truly an indication of how much people care about the city they live in and the spaces which knit all those private residences, and ourselves together.

Please note that gathering all the information for this site has been a challenge and we admit there might be some things we overlooked in the process. If you were a participant and you have not been credited, would like to remain anonymous, have imagery you would like included or generally have changes, please contact us and we will alter the site immediately. We cannot thank everyone enough for their dedication to this cause and New York City in general.

Sincerely PublicAdCampaign

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Monday, December 21, 2009

98 Avenue A Finally Removed After 8 Months

Approximately April 25th

December 21st 2009

After 2 arrests on April 25th during the first NYSAT project, having the DOB officially deem this location illegal, watching as a half a million dollars in fines were issued by the ECB to both NPA and the landlord, this location has finally been removed 8 months later. Whether or not those violations will stick is a question we anxiously await as we follow NPA's conversion to Contest Promotions Inc. in NYC. Now lets see if we can get Keith Schwietzer to get an artist to refresh those rolldowns and give the East Village something it deserves.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

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

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

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

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

October 26th, 2009 by Henry Mathieu

A response to the NY Times article, “A Battle, on Billboards, of Ads vs. Art,” by Colin Moynihan, published on Monday October 26 — — and copied below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Looks like OX got Up After All

Looks like OX got up after all.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

New York Magazine- Breaking Section

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Public Space Can Be Used Against You: NY Street Ad Takeover #2

Hrag Vartanian of Hyper Allergic interviewed PublicAdCampaign about the last NYSAT project and it is well worth the read. We greatly apologize to Hrag for our mis-communication that resulted in his lack of direct access to the latest NYSAT project. Hrag has dissected some of the major questions regarding this type of non-violent civil protest project and we greatly appreciate his work and interest in reporting so diligently on the project.
I had been working on a story for six months but some things don’t always work out the way you plan them. What was the story? Last Sunday, Jordan Seiler of Public Ad Campaign organized the second New York Street Advertising Takeover (NYSAT) in New York. The New York Times was there but sadly I wasn’t. [More Here]

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Brooklyn Street Art-Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Public Advertising and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

VIA Brooklyn Street Art

The sparkling noon-time sun felt a little eerie as bed-headed late-night revelers and smartly dressed church-goers poured out to the street to see that the advertising billboards were bare. [MORE HERE]

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NY Post-Painters in Brush With Law

VIA The New York Post


Posted: 4:03 AM, October 26, 2009

Five people were arrested yesterday for defacing billboards in an effort to replace ads with art.

The five were among dozens armed with paint and brushes who spread out over lower Manhattan and whitewashed billboards to "reclaim" public space as part of a protest organized by the Public Ad Campaign.

Three of the artists were charged with criminal mischief and making graffiti. The other two were still being processed last night.

Adda Birnir, 24, and her boyfriend were painting flowers on a whitewashed billboard on Mulberry Street when cops hauled them off.

"They were being completely peaceful," said Birnir's father, Bjorn, 56, who was visiting from California.

About 80 members attacked advertisements throughout Manhattan with white paint and roller brushes, and filled the new blank canvasses with their own creations.

Jordan Seiler, director of the Public Ad Campaign, said his group identified about 5,000 illegal billboards in the city.

"New York is a beautiful, wonderful city," Seiler said "When you fill it with commercial messages, you turn it into a commercial space rather than a public space."

Representatives from National Promotions and Advertising, which posts many of the ads, were monitoring the protest, and, in some cases, called police. A spokesman for the organization could not be reached for comment.

In April, a similar protest resulted in four arrests.

Kaylina Holman, 18, a high-school senior from Brooklyn, managed to paint green and orange abstract shapes on an Eldridge Street billboard without getting arrested.

"I don't think the public needs to constantly have corporate agendas shoved down their throats," Holman said.

Jonathan Askin, a Public Ad Campaign lawyer, said there is a double standard when it comes to billboards and art.

"The city has lost several millions of dollars by not combating unlawfully posted commercial billboards," Askin said. "The enforcement is arbitrary."

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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 30, 2009

100 Avenue A Still Getting New Copy

This is an illegal NPA City Outdoor street level wildposting site located at 100 Avenue A in NYC. It is the same location where two participants in the NYSAT project were arrested for whitewashing this illegal advertisement, (more to come on this matter later this month) and has been deemed illegal by the DOB sign enforcement unit. Not only this, but the property has a partial stop work order placed on it because of this illegal advertisement. This means there is an order from the city to stop the illegal outdoor advertising at this location until the issue can be resolved legally, and yet here is brand new copy posted on 6-29-09 for the the movie "The Orphan". I have called this location in yet again to find out why NPA is not listening to the city, and in hopes of them recieving another fine for abusing our public environment and flouting NYC law so blatantly.

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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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Monday, May 4, 2009

NYSAT-In The Van & On The Street

photo-Jim Kiernan

photo-Georgia Nerheim

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Real Names-Not Games

I would like to point out that many people involved in the April 25th NYSAT project decided to use their real names. In my case, and I believe in theirs, this was a conscious decision and one that reflects the motivations of the project in general.

I believe that physically, and often as a result, visually interacting with your public environment is an important part of being a citizen in any major metropolitan city. Whether it is through a community sponsored mural project, your own desire to adorn the streets, or simply scribble messages, visual interaction with your public space binds you to that environment. It creates ties which perpetuate your existence in that space and therefore your presence. That presence is a sense of pride that results in a committment to that same space. That commitment extends itself not simply to the physical space you occupy but to those individuals who share that space with you.

By using our real names we are asking that you look at us like regular citizens concerned with the health of our shared social spaces. We do not want to hide behind monikers and pseudonyms many have grown accustomed to pre-prescribing guilty of vandalism and criminal mischief. We ask you to engage a dialogue about the way in which our shared public space is used and how it might better be used in the future.

Question: (please leave your comments)

What would your reaction, and possible action be, if NPA brought charges against any of the participants involved the NYSAT project?

(for those unfamiliar with the NYSAT project, a general synopsis can be found [HERE] as well as in many of the posts since 04-26-09)

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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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