Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fresh Stuff From 2hora In The London Underground

With more and more artists and public individuals taking back commercial messaging spaces for public communications, the work continues to get more and more interesting. This new work from Lithuanian artist 2hora gives the public a presence in the ad saturated London Tube.

Images from Wooster Collective

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Seen On The Streets Of NY-Prayer Booth

VIA Wooster Collective

This NYC phonebooth takeover was found by Wooster Collective readers. It's always a pleasure to see people out on the streets making fantastic work. Considering a good portion of phonebooths in NY don't have working phones and are really just advertising frames, it is about time someone put them to use for something better.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Fresh Stuff From Princess Hijab

VIA Wooster Collective

Photo by Antoine Bréant

Princess Hijab explains the motivations behind her work.
This is the story of a young woman fighting every day for a noble cause: she wants to “hijabize” advertising. Princess Hijab knows that L’Oréal and Dark&Lovely have been killing her little by little. She feels that the veil is no longer that white. She feels contaminated. When she was a teen, she heard about movements such as Adbuster; but since 9/11, things have changed. She does not subvert images in an American way. Princess Hijab will go on, veiled and alone, forever asserting her physical and mental integrity. By day, she wears a white veil, symbol of purity. By night, her black veil is the expression of her vengeful fight for a cause (custom ad). With her spray paint and black marker pen, she is out to hijabize advertising. Even Kate Moss is targeted. She knows all about visual terrorism! And she will not spare her right of expression for the likes of publicists. Make sure that all advertising can be hijabized “ ‘cause that’s her fight Jihad is her art”. And don’t forget, she acts upon her own free will. She is not involved in any lobby or movement be it political, religious or to do with advertising. In fact, the Princess is an insomniac-punk. She is the leader of an artistic fight, nothing else.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Was Here-Classic L'Atlas

Image VIA Wooster Collective

This giant "I was here" image, posted over an outdoor advertising location by L'Atlas, is a wonderful distillation of many public individual's motivations behind their graffiti, their street art, and their general tendency to mark their visual environment as they travel through public space. Major metropolis' often create a sense of anonymity that is inescapable. In order to combat this and define oneself and one's identity amidst so many, individuals turn to marking the spaces they have been. This need to define ones presence visually is only exacerbated by the presence of outdoor advertisements which promote commercial companies and their interests before those of the people who actually live in this city. As the individual becomes more and more anonymous and the corporate presence more and more prevalent, it is only a matter of time before individuals stop marking buildings and start taking back the space corporate america has robbed from them.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kama's Escalator Animation Tests

VIA Wooster Collective

Serendipity can brighten your day and make more interesting your interaction with your city scape. If you choose to look, these moments are everywhere as exemplified by this new animation by KAMA.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Brad Downey "Making Illegal Permanent" in Sweden

Via Wooster Collective

I love this project. Simple graffiti and cheap throw ups have become a part of our common urban experience. This can be attributed to the criminalization of graffiti and yet that really doesn't even matter. The fact is these simple tags are an integral part of any city dwellers regular routine. By solidifying these images, this project realizes the reality of our common urban landscape. It admits these tags are a part of our common public experience and raises them up despite the general public's sentiments. If we choose to decry this kind of mark making without addressing the motivations behind them, then they will continue to be a part of our urban experience. This project understands that fact and sets in stone the scrawl we choose to ignore.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

WK Interact Fresh Hits in New York

Image from Wooster Collective

Often street artists will hit the streets for a while until they gather enough momentum to find galleries which will show their work. Once in the comfortable nest of four white walls, those artists might not go back to the street. Not only has WK interact not given up on the public work, but he has taken his latest gallery exhibition at Jonathan Levine and brought it directly to the street in all its glorious complexity. The images he is posting now appear to be straight prints of the paintings he has on exhibition. Now if only he would take one of those amazing doors and install it at my house in Brooklyn. You can see more images here.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Liar Channel No More

The only thing about this post that doesn't make me all giddy and excited about this recent Wooster Collective post is that NIS uses the word prank at the end. Prank doesn't do justice to the risk whomever did this took in order to make a simple message clear.

VIA WoosterCollective

From our friend Nis in Copenhagen:

"I was on my way home from work today, and when I changed subway lines at Nørreport Station (the busiest travel hub in Copenhagen) - something seemed off. There were no ads at all! Somehow someone have taken down all the ads inside locked poster-frames on a heavily CCTV'ed train station. And I think it's been done during the day - because I didn't notice the ads missing this morning on my way to work.

At first I thought "I must be in the process of switching the posters right now", but then I noticed...

...that the logo on top of the poster frames had been altered. It no longer said CLEAR CHANNEL, but now read LIAR CHANNEL."

This prank was so fantastic in it's simplicity that I had to share it with you."


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Friday, May 15, 2009

Fresh Stuff From Aakash Nihalani

Aakash Nihalani's work is about participation and interaction. The simple use of the box, I've been told, is about calling out all of the other things in the environment that go unnoticed using a single visual device. It's simple and genious and often extremely successful. This project is a fabulous example of his work at its best.

VIA Wooster Collective

We've been a fan of Aakash Nihalani's work for a while now. It was nice to get the following note from him yesterday:

"I saw that post about what people are passionate about, and I wanted to share a project I was very grateful to be involved with. Yesterday, ACNY invited me to do some installations at A Better Place, a permanent housing program in New York City for homeless men and women living with HIV/AIDS. I wasn't sure how willing the residents were to participate, but their cautions, and my timidity, quickly diminished once we started taping. By the end of the afternoon, they were all coming up with great suggestions on how to interact with their environment; each wanting to pose next to the pieces they helped create."

You can see more of Aakash's work here.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wooster In The White House - An Explanation

It’s amazing how times change.

When Sara and I started the Wooster Collective eight years ago, it felt to us at the time that the ONLY lens the media was providing as a way into understanding street art and graffiti was vandalism. As a gatekeeper, mass media’s control of what was being said about graffiti and street art made it impossible for most people to appreciate the positive role that it can play in our lives. The media had shut out, and refused to amplify, any diversity of thought. And because of this, graffiti has never been recognized by mainstream society as an “important” art movement. Even though it’s in every city in the world.

We want this to change.

The great thing about the Internet, as we all know, is that no media company or city government controls it. Any of us, including two people who happen to live on Wooster Street, can become a media entity. All they need is a point-of-view. By simply celebrating unauthorized acts of public art when it seemed nobody else was - and then having people spread the positive message it sends - Wooster, by happenstance, has in essence become a media entity.

As the popularity of the Wooster website started to grow, and we began meeting other people who felt the same way as we did, it quickly became clear to us that MANY people understood that graffiti and street art was not about just about vandalism. But rather, that it raises important issues about the need to reclaim our public space; the need for us to affirm our existence on this planet by writing on walls; the need and importance of spontaneous acts of creativity to make our cities more “livable”. And so, so much more.

So last month when we received an invitation to attend a briefing at The White House (yes, that one), we were at first a bit shocked, definitely skeptical, and finally, after giving it a lot of thought - absolutely delighted. To be included in the conversation at the level of The White House, we felt, was a huge testament that our voice (meaning our collective voice) was being heard.

Yesterday, along with about sixty amazing organizations who are committed to grassroots arts initiatives, we met with various officials in the Obama Administration, to listen and learn what the administration was thinking in regards to the Arts, to ask questions, and then to participate in working sessions on issues that we felt passionate about. (Ours was the need to better understand the issues around public and private space)

We know that a lot of people will hate us for going to The White House. But for us, the goal of attending the meetings yesterday was not to attempt to “partner” with government on anything. Or to ask for their acceptance. The power of street art is that you don’t ask for, nor need, permission. At best, it’s about tolerance and understanding.

For us, we felt the issues related to the disappearance of common access to our public space and the need for a deeper understanding of what is and what is not “art” should not be limited to those who read blogs – especially ours. Talking solely to “the converted” will get you only so far. We learned a while back that when you have a chance to sit at the table you take it. Even if those around the table are not people you fully trust.

So all of this is to say that we felt that by going to meet with officials in the new Obama Administration we were representing not us, but all of you. It wasn’t about stroking our ego or having a photo-op with the President (which didn’t happen). It was about letting people who make decisions at the highest level know that the definition of what "art" is needs to change in our society. If art is "over there" and health and science and transportation is “over here" - then art will always be something that is perceived as elitist, misunderstood, undervalued, etc. It will always be something that is only found in museums and in galleries, not put on our streets and on our walls with the artist taking the risk of getting arrested.

Again - our definitions need to change. An we think Obama can do that. At the very least he can start to move the needle forward.

The amazing thing we found out yesterday is that there are people working directly for Obama who get it. We know this not from what they said, but from the diversity of their backgrounds.

Yes, there are indeed graffiti artists working in The White House

On Monday, when we told a friend that we were heading down to Washington to participate in these meetings, he said - “That what I voted for!”

We felt the same way.

And that's why we went to the White House.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Profitable Nature of Wooster Collective?

This post is meant for anyone who has followed Wooster for any of the past 6 years, or anyone who has been lucky enough to enjoy the unwavering force that is Marc & Sara of the Wooster Collective. It is also response to an article on Indy Media entitled "Commercial strategies of the Wooster Collective; appropriating a subculture for 5 years strong." I cannot say I do not in many ways agree with them, I can say I know Marc and Sara and they are well intentioned visionaries.

I have always looked down upon street artists that fail to see, and embrace, the political nature of their work. Often I am critical of those who have profited from the pursuit of commercially viable ways for their original ideas to exist. I gaze with simple eyes, desperate for the pursuit of truth and idealism. Along side this sits a quiet jealousy I rarely reveal. It is something I continually grapple with, and in the end something I continue to come back to in my analysis of street art works. I know artists must make a living off their work, but the sacrifice of ones ideas is not an acceptable way to strive for artistic greatness.

Street art, illegal public art, whatever you want to call it, holds an ideological promise far greater than other art practices for me. It has at the heart of its process a philosophy and determination greater than most studio arts. It is inherently a political act and is closer to protest than decoration as far as I'm concerned. If art is to fulfill its role as activism and provide anything worthwhile to society, it must challenge ideas and not merely postulate aesthetic values.

I began my street art career, naively, at the end of the year 2000. I was at best seeking stable footing for what I was doing as an artist at that time. I desperately attempted to make sense of the actions I was taking and the politics I was slowly trying to define. I found Wooster Collective early in my career, and their support as early as 2003 was invaluable. I have never seen eye to eye with Marc & Sara. The art movement they saw, and helped define, was never something I fully understood, yet it was always an inspiration.

Yes they have parlayed their incredible thirst for street art into a viable business that has supported them, as well as the artists who have been lucky enough to benefit from their foresight. Yes this may be sacrificial to a select few and their definition of public projects, as well as the purity they wish to attribute to the street art movement, but let us not forget, as I have not forgotten, that we are not all in this for the same reason.

My ideas could never have surfaced without graffiti, street art, the publicly absurd, and the random happenings so joyously created by all the artistic misfits in this world. Despite my ignorance of those before me, my access to what I consider incredibly deep felt street work, was largely made possible by the history Wooster created.

I despise Wooster for moving beyond the simple initial act of placing images amongst us, and yet I commend them for daring to present us with those initial images that allowed us all to look in the same direction. We don't need to revere Wooster as the definition of truth within the street art movement; in fact it would be a foolish move. But we need to respect Marc & Sara for audaciously building the archive of public communication that was the result of their simple interest in the writing that a rare few decided was worthy of the walls.

This is what I am reacting to....

VIA Indy Media

Commercial strategies of the Wooster Collective; appropriating a subculture for 5 years strong.

This article is in response to the show put on by the Wooster Collective this weekend at 11 Spring Street St.

The Shill of Marc Schiller or
A little background info on the Wooster Collective

Marc Schiller, Wooster Collective's co-founder, is the CEO for an advertising corporation. His company, ElectricArtists, works with other corporations including Warner Bros., Microsoft, and CNN.

The following is a description copied and pasted directly from the ElectricArtists website:

ElectricArtists is an innovative marketing services company that
develops and implements unique "community based" marketing campaigns.
Led by a team of seasoned marketing executives, ElectricArtists
fosters and nurtures relationships with a client's most influential
audience by providing the tastemakers with brand information that
triggers consumers talking to each other and spreading the word. Since
1997 ElectricArtists has seen 100% growth in PROFITS EACH YEAR while
serving a diverse list of blue chip clients in the global media and
entertainment sectors including Ralston-Purina, Levis, Sony Pictures,
and BMG Entertainment. ElectricArtists success has been given
extensive media coverage with features in Forbes, Time, Billboard,
Variety, ABC's World News Tonight, and others. The company has
expanded FROM its New York base with offices in Japan and England,
thus enabling ElectricArtists to develop and deliver GLOBAL MARKETING

Strategic Philosophy
By targeting the "ideal customers" and providing exciting brand
messages, from behind-the-scenes news to downloadable samples,
ElectricArtists converts fans into loyalists and ultimately, into
advocates. Meanwhile, clients gain valuable market research insight
and honest consumer feedback. EA manages the trust and credibility of
your brand so that your message is heard and believed above the
clutter. Yet, the success of our strategies has everything to do with
you. ElectricArtists considers our efforts part of the bigger
marketing picture-if the other marketing pistons are firing, our
efforts will be considerably more effective.


"Too much "space" in our urban cities is sold to advertisers and large
corporations. Street artists are trying to reclaim a bit of their
space, even if it means doing it without the approval of the people
who control that space."
Marc Schiller, co-founder of Wooster Collective



I mean it is just kind of incredible that so many graffiti artists and street artists
have gathered together to get on board with this man. On the one hand it makes loads of commercial sense to align yrself with Wooster, but how can it be considered in the vain of graffiti, or street art or anything but a marketing strategy?

Unless we think of the street artist as a
self-interested paranoiac who wants to be seen (but not seen) plastering the streets
with their wares. Who naively enters the market disgruntled by the value of production only to turn around and produce themselves. A somnambulist is a person who is too
awake in the morning to put on a McDonald's hat, but too asleep by the afternoon to stop flipping

Street and graffiti artists you are smart enough to feel disturbed
and want to change the commercialism of yr city, but you have
becomes beauticians in a competition with capital. If you do well you will be paid with the whip of laughter with murder on a garbage heap. Selling a look.

This is the recipe to extract profit.
Collectors, museums and street art vendors make money off playing the
art market with you. Of course a good collector will do their best to promote
their artist(s). Selling their look to prestigious corporations and collectors, exposing their work on a global level with a website will get the largest return value for the collector. A huge show.

If you bought into Marc Schiller's New York Times article, or the 7 step premiss, you have been sold more than just a paper.

The underground is important, you are important. This, look around, is the life blood of capital; where
the collector's money places bets; markers in a horse race, be new, and above the pace, you will pay off -- if not in the short term, in the longer term investment.

Magazines, books, T-shirts, stickers, curated gallery shows, over the Internet, in museums, or
through private purchase, the art needs to be bought and the artist sold. But everywhere it
is the same and the pockets bulge.
Download Article (PDF) Add to PDF Compilation Download PDF Compilation Email Article

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

One Not To Miss: TIm Jackson's Radical Jesters

VIA Wooster Collective

If you're interested in the subject of Culture Jamming, Tim Jackson's new film Radical Jesters is a must see.

You can watch the whole film online here.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Bubble Project Manifesto

The Bubble Project has been taking back our streets since 2005. Today, Wooster Collective announced, "..the second book in our "Books We Love" series is Ji Lee's Talk Back: The Bubble Project which came out from Mark Batty publisher in 2006." In the posting, Wooster includes Ji Lee's Manifesto which is a very concise argument for the need for open participation in our public discourse. Very insightful.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ron English Interview

VIA Wooster Collective

Ron English has been taking over billboards for a long time. I've always understood his work to come from the political side, taking his issues with outdoor advertising based on its content and marketing tactics which often take advantage of the under represented. The beginning of this interview says otherwise. Ron talks about the freedom of speech as well as the control of public space issues with clarity and earnestness. Its a great look into his thoughts and process.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Photoshop Adbusting in Berlin

VIA Wooster Collective

A few days ago our friend Just in Berlin spotted these adbusted posters in Berlin.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

"The Dog Dies": Movie Spoiler Graffiti Hits Los Angeles

Having not seen this movie, which by the way is exploding box offices, I didn't realize the graffiti that has been showing up in Los Angeles is actually a movie spoiler. Given this, the messages are extremely disarming to the power the ad has to attract viewers. The ad may not itself be gone but the experience it is advertising is rendered useless through the added message by revealing the ending.

This is an interesting distinction for me that I have never considered, being adamant about total ad removal except in the most specific cases. If this graffiti were placed over an ad for Coca Cola, the product would suffer very little. Since Coca Cola's objective is brand recognition first and foremost and not the actual product, the fact that the brand is not obscured would mean the ad remains potent. In advertising for movies and other products or services which rely on the actual product to promote itself, total obstruction of the ad is not necessary. A detournement, or witty alteration may suffice to destroy the ad as well as point to the moment of interaction and communication taking place between viewer and individual.

This is not to say that any scrawl over an advertisement of this type will take the air out of the ad and turn the campaign on itself. The content of the alteration must speak to the product and displace whatever authority it might hold. This acknowledgment opens up a method of taking back public space from advertising content I have been very slow to recognize but have come to respect through this piece.

With that said, the objective of Public Ad Campaign is not to debunk advertising content, but rather to question its authority in the public environment and what adverse effects we are under because of it. Removal of the ad for individually created content is more to that point and speaks to an environment where the public creates content instead of reacting to it.

From Wooster Collective

Photos nicked from here.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Jordan Seiler: The A's To Our Q's

Wooster Collective recently got back into doing their A's To Our Q's section. Along with some other very interesting artists I had yet to see, they asked me to participate. Thanks again to Wooster for their unending support of the street art movement.

from Wooster Collective

Age: 29
Hometown: New York City
Where do you live now?: New York City
Where would you like to live?: New York City
Who was your first hero in life?: Truthfully I've struggled with the hero concept for a long time. Often the sense of worship takes what I admire about people and places it out of context, and far out of reach. I prefer to see the people I look up to just as they are. The reasons I look up to them, their dedication, grace, sincerity, then become obtainable in my own life as well.What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?: I would like to go camping. I used to camp a lot and haven't for a long time.
What is your favorite color?: Black or White, depending on the lightWho or what do you love?: The gratification and purpose art brings to my life and to others around me.Who and what are some of your influences?: The city, its successes, its faults, and the overwhelming number of daily interactions that take place within it. Ralph Gibson whose photographs showed me how see line.

Wooster: What other artists do you most admire?
I admire those who are steadfast in their dedication to an idea.
Wooster: How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?
I work on the street over outdoor advertising in an effort to illuminate the glaring incompatibility between advertising's use of the public space and individual's interactions with the public environment. Given the works use of the public advertising frame and the issues of visibility that arise from that relationship, the images are often simple, bold, and graphic. The ephemeral quality of the art lends itself to a website which chronicles my activities and thoughts on the subject.
Wooster: What other talent would you most like to have?
There are so many. Lets start with being able to write a book.
Wooster: What do you fear most?
Having to pay for all the advertising space I've destroyed over the past 8 years.
Wooster: What is your greatest ambition?
To facilitate the creation of a public space that is open to all forms of visual interaction by challenging outdoor advertising's abuse of the public environment.

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    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