Friday, February 19, 2010

How Many Billboards?, Los Angeles

According to Unurth this morning, the How Many Billboards Project has begun. Not all of the artworks have been put up but I expect more will follow shortly. We are super excited to see LA begin to consider the role of media in public space and its tendency to obliterate other forms of visual practices. I hope a project like this can spark the imagination of many and allow them to ponder alternative uses of our shared environment.


Kerry Tribe

For several days this billboard has been pleasing, entertaining and intriguing me.
I've finally found out that it's part of 'How many billboards?', a project by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. It's like a glossier, more authorized version of the New York Street Advertising Takeover (NYSAT). (MORE HERE)

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Advertiser

It's amazing to think that one day the public will have to arm itself with something like this to combat the ever expanding outdoor advertising industries encroachment on our shared public spaces. Sadly by the time something like this is functional, I have a suspicion we will have moved past traditional billboards and posted media as the outdoor advertising venue of choice. After all it's about getting in your head, and visualizations are only one way into your psyche.

VIA The Anti Advertising Agency

The Artvertiser is an urban, hand-held, augmented-reality project exploring the live substitution of advertising content for art.

Software is trained to recognise individual advertisements, each of which become a virtual ‘canvas’ on which an artist can exhibit when viewed through the hand-held device.

The project was initiated by Julian Oliver in February 2008 and is being developed in collaboration with artists Clara Boj and Diego Diaz.

This is the first in a series of video reports documenting the progress of the project.

You can read more about the project 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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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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Saturday, May 2, 2009

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

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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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Graffiti's Still Not Your Friend?

Graffiti can often be seen at the lower edge of outdoor billboards as artists attempt to reuse the prime real estate the advertising industry has paid handsomely for. This image in particular works nicely, the play on who is watching who as well as the complete erasure of the movies opening dates as well as other pertinent information transforms the ad into a unified piece. Courtesy of, REVOK at at at

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day Kisses From Alsacherie in France

I'm not positive these are advertising structures, but I'm so sure I won't take the time to care. This is the kind of uplifting and personal messages you get instead of advertising when you allow the public access to its visual environment on all levels. To those responsible for this, thank you for a beautiful takeover.

VIA Wooster Collective

You can see the full series here.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In Paris, an anti-ad insurgency

The following quote gets directly to the point of why I do the work I do. Small acts of civil disobedience are the only way I am able to push this important issue to the forefront of people's consciousness. In this case the French are merely carrying on a long history of mischief making that challenges the authority under which they live. It would seem in America we are much less tolerant of this behavior and fail to see the social benefits that come from everyday average citizens forgetting their better judgment in an effort to better the society they live in.

"You see commercial messages every day, you get them right in the face, in the subway, in the street, all the time, and if you don't want to, you do not have the choice," Baret declared over a megaphone. "So we are obliged to resort to civil disobedience. In a symbolic manner, we will tag a few billboards in order to provoke debate and push for things to progress."

VIA The LA times

Audrey Bastide / For The Times
TAKING ACTION: A member of the Dismantlers, a nationwide group that considers large public advertisements to be obtrusive and manipulative, is recorded as he defaces one near Place Malesherbes in Paris.

Activists opposed to billboards invite police to rallies where they tag the offending signs, seeking a day in court.
Reporting from Paris -- Over the centuries, the French have cultivated the fine art of rebellion.

The list of targets encompasses tyrants, wars, colonialism and, above all, capitalism in its many manifestations. The latest enemy may seem unlikely: billboards.

The Dismantlers, as a nationwide group of anti-ad crusaders call themselves, aren't violent or loud or clandestine. In fact, they invite the police to protest rallies where they deface signs. With a copywriter's flair, one of their slogans warns: "Attention! Avert your eyes from ads: You risk being very strongly manipulated." The goal of the Dismantlers is to get arrested, argue the righteousness of their cause in court and, you guessed it, gain publicity.

"We challenge the mercantile society that destroys all human relationships, professional relationships, health, the environment," said Alexandre Baret, 35, a founder of the group. "It's a message that proposes to attack advertising as the fuel of this not very healthy society."

Despite the stick-it-to-the-man rhetoric, there were neckties and briefcases in the crowd at an evening rally here a while back. Part-time insurgents had come from work for the gathering in the Place Malesherbes, an elegant, tree-lined plaza graced by statues of the author Alexandre Dumas and his musketeer hero D'Artagnan, one of literature's most irrepressible swashbucklers.

The 80-odd demonstrators, looking bohemian and stylish, listened to Baret set the ideological stage. The red-bearded schoolteacher and father of four explained that he doesn't want to abolish advertising, just limit signs to no more than 1.2 feet by 1.6 feet. The current wall-size dimensions are obtrusive and oppressive, he said.

The large and colorful billboards that are a fixture of the Paris streetscape are hard to ignore, especially the many suggestive ads for undergarments. Some consider them artistic; religious fundamentalists condemn them as proof of Western decadence.

"You see commercial messages every day, you get them right in the face, in the subway, in the street, all the time, and if you don't want to, you do not have the choice," Baret declared over a megaphone. "So we are obliged to resort to civil disobedience. In a symbolic manner, we will tag a few billboards in order to provoke debate and push for things to progress."

Baret urged the crowd to give a cordial welcome to the police. Advised by the activists ahead of time, the authorities had dispatched a squad of riot police, the renowned head-thumpers of the CRS, or Republican Security Companies.

The officers formed a cordon: burly and stern in blue uniforms, black gloves, pants tucked into lace-up boots. They looked bemused. They were no doubt thankful to tangle with polite leftists instead of housing-project gangs who have been known to "welcome" police with bricks, Molotov cocktails and gunfire.

Under Baret's direction, three activists approached billboards promoting audiovisual products and a television talk show and spray-painted them with slogans. The police slapped on handcuffs and led their prisoners to a van. There was applause. An accordion accompanied the crowd in a popular song, "The Deserter," with lyrics modified for the occasion. And that was that.

The Dismantlers represent an enduring contradiction of the French mentality. The center-right won the last elections by a comfortable margin. Juggernaut industries sell the world everything from jets to trains to wine. The average citizen enjoys long vacations, a beach or country home and a lifestyle that is the envy of the West.

Nonetheless, a large percentage of the population tells pollsters that it is hostile to the capitalist system. That ideological current produced the anti-advertising movement, which took off in 2003 and has won sympathy with its mix of economic and environmental messages.

"I think that when you get down to it, they are right," said Marina, 33, a restaurant worker who stopped to see what the fuss was about in the Place Malesherbes. "Between TV, Internet and advertising billboards, we are told about consumption all the time."

But Marina expressed doubt that this particular mini-revolution would triumph.

"I find it funny, but a little useless," she said. "I think tagging ads bothers passersby more than anything. A sign full of graffiti is even worse than having to look at an ad."

Unlike anarchists or other groups that engage in hit-and-run tactics, the Dismantlers see the courtroom as a battlefield of choice. They gather contributions to pay fines that are often low because judges tend to be lenient and the vandalism is calculated to remain minimal.

Baret appeared at a hearing last month on charges of "unauthorized advertising." The case involved an incident in 2007 when he was caught plastering commuter trains with the "avert your eyes" stickers.

Baret, who like his fellow insurgents is a veteran defendant, had refused to pay the $58 fine. His lawyer argued that his actions were less destructive than the 57,000 giant signs that fill the train stations of France.

"The advertisements are energy-intensive, they use paper from forests," the lawyer said. "It's an assault on individual liberties, an advertising aggression."

In response, the prosecutor reminded the accused that "the tribunal is not a tribune." A lawyer representing the French railroad company, which demanded a symbolic $1.30 in damages and $650 for legal costs, chided the activists for returning to rabble-rousing of "years ago."

A verdict is expected in February. But the Dismantlers say they have already won by making people stop and think about the messages that bombard them each day.

"The advertising budget in France is $39 billion a year," said Antoine Trouillard, a 26-year-old philosophy student and activist.

"That's equivalent to the entire education budget in France. . . . Our movement goes a lot further than a simple symbolic gesture. And that's what we want the public to understand."

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Cut Up Collective O2 reordering

I'm always amazed at the level of sophistication that Cut Up Collective brings to billboard takeovers. This is the first time I've seen them work on a piece from start to finish and I'm amazed at the amount of time they spend at each site. It's all about those bright yellow or orange vests people. You don't spend more than 30 seconds doing this kind of thing without one.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ron English Welcomes Obama’s Presidency with LA Billboard

from Juxtapoz by
Ron English, the man behind the now iconic (although not quite as iconic as Shepard’s Obama Hope image) Abraham Obama image welcomed our new President to office in a unique (and eye-catching) manner: he and his crew of ad-busting minions took over a Clear Channel billboard in Los Angeles. So typical of Ron; always needing to be the biggest and best, huh? Well, we love it and suggest you sneak a glance if you’re in sunny SoCal, or peep his latest gallery work, which is now on display through January at FIFTY24SF Gallery.

More on Ron English at

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

LEETO Takes Advantage

I was tipped off that LEETO hit the big blank canvas PosterBoy provided a while back and sure enough when I went to the site he had. One may not agree with the content that was provided by LEETO, a quick "throw up" (used by graffiti artists when they are in a spot which is dangerous and don't have time to execute a more intricate piece), but one can't overlook the public interaction and communication happening here. It should be noted that the criminalization of graffiti by the city is responsible for LEETO's inability to carry out something more elegant and earnest in this situation.

I could not be happier with the direction this project has gone. It is a crystal clear image of how the public space should be used and for whom it should be used. Thanks PosterBoy and thanks LEETO for taking the time to talk to us through your environment. We are listening.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pushing the Envelop When Art's Just Not Enough

This post is in response to the comment string left on the last post regarding PosterBoy's illegal billboard takedown.

The fact of the matter is attention needs to be drawn to this issue. With such amazing work being done and little attention being paid outside the art community, maybe it takes something outside of conventional means like PosterBoy's billboard takedown to actually address the problem. Here are some examples of illegal work that openly challenges advertising's messages and more importantly use of public space, yet hasn't managed to get your panties in a bunch.

Doctor D-London

Peter Fuss-Unknown

Jordan Seiler-New York City



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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's Left is the Idea

One last post for the day and then I'm getting to my work.

PosterBoy and I have talked at length about the process of ad removal and rearrangement. The merits of destruction lacking artistry and finesse in a world of aesthetics and colors. Even graffiti stands on legs made strong by highly developed aesthetic codes. In light of this what can you make of such a wanton disregard for property and civil laws, conceived as an artistic endeavor. Maybe it is being misrepresented as art and is closer to activist projects. I returned to the scene of the crime where PosterBoy removed a large vinyl billboard and found something in the middle, an idea. No longer did Van Wagner control the message. What was left is the empty space upon which you can project your thoughts and desires about the place you want to be.

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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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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Campaign Billboard Busting in Israel by READ

I am unfamiliar with READ's work and was happy to have been sent this post. It seems I'm not the only one taking matters into my own hands and reclaiming advertising space to express my ideas and discontents. Street artists and activists alike are doing similar work more than ever. Looking forward to the future and a movement which challenges not only the use of public space but who is using that space and for what ends.

VIA Juxtapoz

“It’s around election time here in Israel and the campaigns are as crappy as ever (it’s funny but a lot of the parties are using distorted versions and misused slogans ‘inspired’ by the Obama campaign),” street artist READ wrote us. “I thought the billboards would be an interesting medium to use to say what I feel about the ‘09 candidates.”
In a refreshingly bold move, READ literally rips apart political billboards and then recreates a new sign (above) to fashion his own form of propaganda. Take a look at the in-process video below and then peep READ’s Flickr here.
Don’t understand what the billboard says? That’s okay, as READ quipped: “I know all the signs are in Hebrew but they make about as much sense to Hebrew speakers as well :)”

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Monday, January 12, 2009

PosterBoy gets Rowdy

In this video PosterBoy tests the ease of removal/alteration of billboard sized vinyl signs. It's my understanding that he was attempting to release the vinyl in a way that would have allowed the top half to fold over the bottom half, leaving a blank canvas. On this new white wall he could have written whatever he chose. It was 27 degrees out and ice had covered everything earlier that evening. At the end of the video you can see instead of folding over, the right hand side of the vinyl was frozen stiff and dragged the bottom half down with the top as it came undone. This is a big hit, and if PosterBoy makes it work you will be seeing some of the largest ad takeovers I've ever seen happening soon. Stay tuned for more to come as I'm sure this isn't the last we will see of PosterBoy.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Will You Marry Me by Steve Lambert

Steve Lambert just posted this on his site but did this piece in June 2007. He goes one step further and shows you how to make a quick tool to do the same thing he did on Not only is this a great simple project, but the Invisible Venue seems to be curating other billboard liberation's as well. Here is another example by Aaron Stienstra.

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