Street Artists Take on New York's Illegal Billboards

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

In an excerpt from the feature documentary This Space Available, Jordan Seiler's Public Ad Campaign mobilizes volunteers to whitewash the advertising taking over urban environments. Although the ads themselves are illegal, some of the activists are arrested for their efforts. Seiler, however, prefers to describe the activists' work as civil disobedience, and also promotes less invasive ways to take back public space. In a recent project, Public Ad Campaign collaborated with The Heavy Projects to create an augmented reality app that replaced ads in Times Square with art when viewed on an iPad screen. 

 Gwenaëlle Gobé, the director of the film, talks about the project in an interview with the Atlantic Video channel, where you can also watch the trailer for the documentary.  In the interview, Gobé describes the questions at the heart of the film:

There is a very compelling set of conflicting interests here and I use them to tell a story of a world in flux. This film is about how we arrived at the current state of commercial excess and the people who are doing something about this crisis. The film asks, what kind of world did our previous generation of advertising artists dream to create, and what is the result today? Who are the people raising awareness about visual pollution and how are they going about it? Everywhere around the world, in every city, someone is standing up locally to excessive outdoor media, either in the courtroom or in the streets. The passion of the people we met throughout our journey around the world, are our inspiration and our thread to telling the story.

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For more information about This Space Available, visit http://thisspaceavailablefilm.com/. For more work by Gwenaëlle Gobé, visit http://gwenaellegobe.com/. For updates, follow the film on Facebook or Twitter.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/video/archive/2012/03/street-artists-take-on-new-yorks-illegal-billboards/253810/