Taking the Piss
July 21, 2012 12:03 AM   Subscribe

Brandalism, a mixture of vandalism, graffit and art,i is a form of guerrilla art which recently involved 26 artists from 5 countries transforming billboards in the UK. Original post here on Dangerous Minds.
posted by Isadorady (36 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
My only experience to date with this has been Posterchild's stuff, which I like for the most part - but going over paid advertising? Feels a bit like stealing.... you take away something someone's paid for and use that space for your own (frankly, uninspiring) art instead of renting your own space?

Billboards annoy me, so I get what they're trying to say about reclaiming visual space....but they aren't reclaiming it for everyone, are they - just their stuff. I would honestly be more annoyed to see this stuff staring at me from a billboard than most advertisements.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 12:59 AM on July 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


(Ah, I meant Posterchild was similar to this - not that he is a part of it, though he typically works on blank spaces)
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 1:08 AM on July 21, 2012


Public Neo-Dada/Utopian/Situationist/Pop Art billboards? In London?

Some kids will never learn. Punk Rock died was appropriated by the big advertising agencies over 25 years ago.

Unless they get a patron, partner, gallerist dealer or publisher to partner with them on a coffee table-sized publication, it will be as those images never existed.

It may be fun to be a street artist and all, but the way they're going about it, they're mostly pissing away their time, energy and resources.
posted by vhsiv at 1:24 AM on July 21, 2012


I'm into Brandoism, where people make graffiti images of Marlon Brando: 1, 2, 3, 4, ...
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:47 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Considering the way the preparations for the Olympics are going, I'm surprised this didn't end up with a military response.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:37 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really like them, and more than the specific pieces, I just far prefer the prospect of spaces filled with art than adverts. Is their execution ideal? Maybe not, but who am I to rag on it? If all billboards were like this I would be significantly happier when out in public.

Hopefully we'll all have VR glasses soon that can do this on the fly.
posted by Drexen at 4:13 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


but they aren't reclaiming it for everyone, are they - just their stuff.

Which they display for everybody, for free. What would you prefer, that they turned the billboards into giant blackboards everyone could draw on? I mean, that's a neat idea, but it would be kind of shite in practise, wouldn't it?
posted by Drexen at 4:15 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Considering the way the preparations for the Olympics are going, I'm surprised this didn't end up with a military response.

Culminating in a fatal shooting no less.
posted by Mezentian at 4:46 AM on July 21, 2012


What would you prefer, that they turned the billboards into giant blackboards everyone could draw on? I mean, that's a neat idea, but it would be kind of shite in practise, wouldn't it?

*I* would prefer that they left things that aren't theirs alone. If they want to display their art, they should rent their own billboard.
posted by gjc at 5:11 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hopefully we'll all have VR glasses soon that can do this on the fly.

the artvertiser
posted by jonbro at 5:15 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oo, art protest. I can feel the powers quaking from here.
posted by Decani at 5:26 AM on July 21, 2012


CONSUME
REPRODUCE
OBEY
posted by loquacious at 5:49 AM on July 21, 2012


I just wish they were saying something new with it.
posted by graventy at 5:59 AM on July 21, 2012


but going over paid advertising? Feels a bit like stealing....

Advertisers abduct public spaces and steal your personal attention, treating them as though they have no cost or value, in order to make you feel envious, anxious or otherwise inadequate so that they can you whatever junk they're hawking.

They're the ones stealing from you, not these guys.
posted by mhoye at 6:05 AM on July 21, 2012 [25 favorites]


It's not a new idea. I'll get on board when they incorporate 'Cock-faced tit wank'.

(Also, no Bill Hicks link. Cool! Let's say something new about advertising for once.)
posted by mippy at 6:14 AM on July 21, 2012


Advertisers abduct public spaces and steal your personal attention

Yeah, this is why I'm really not too cut up about the "theft" argument. Do I think it's okay for anyone to put whatever they want on other people's surfaces? No, but then, I think it's bullshit that everyone fills their surfaces -- my eyeball-space -- with insidious advertising. If advertising was less insidious, I'd have less of a problem with it -- but then it would also be more boring, and even more apt for replacement by something that actually looks good.

And Decani, I don't think these have to shake the foundations of capitalism to be a good thing. They look neat and are more interesting than adverts, and that's plenty for me. Besides, every little helps. I think if these things were widespread and adverts were not, that'd have some cumulative effect on the commercial atmosphere.
posted by Drexen at 6:25 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


*I* would prefer that they left things that aren't theirs alone. If they want to display their art, they should rent their own billboard.

Quoting the great Banksy:

People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.


source
posted by crazy_yeti at 6:52 AM on July 21, 2012 [28 favorites]


Unless they get a patron, partner, gallerist dealer or publisher to partner with them on a coffee table-sized publication, it will be as those images never existed.

1. I don't think permanence and posterity is what they are aiming for. They acknowledge that they are part of a history of artists, where people build on each others ideas and leave their own for the next artist.

2. They have their gallery online. So, even without commercial publishing (or being in the cities they have targeted), we know about them.

I liked some of these -- they are an interesting mix of politically-oriented "message" pieces and "plain art." The former are amusing, although, as is pretty much required, pretty blatant and likely to get stale, and the latter are a mixed bag. I liked the pictorial ones better than the abstract "paint splash" look, which just made it seem as if the billboard was abandoned (which I suppose, might have been the point).
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:12 AM on July 21, 2012


Feels a bit like stealing.... you take away something someone's paid for and use that space for your own (frankly, uninspiring) art instead of renting your own space?

You have to be kidding! You are protecting The Advertisers? The wasteful propagandist spreading pointless rubbish.

90% of advertising is a pure waste of human activity. It creates nothing but pointless brand awareness and desire to consume. The only way towards a the Age of Leisure is to remove this cancerous lesion of "work" from society.

The waste of resources in Advertising I contend is one of the reasons we all still work so much for so little. Its the reason why Sneakers cost as much as they do.

One of the most insidious wastes of human endeavor to be developed.
posted by mary8nne at 7:20 AM on July 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Advertisers abduct public spaces and steal your personal attention

Why is this concept so hard to understand? Is it because the exchange of money somehow legitimizes this activity and makes it "normal"? But graffiti is a CRIME. We have zero tolerance for graffiti, because only people with MONEY get to write stuff on public spaces. This is seriously fucked up.
posted by sneebler at 7:32 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're the ones stealing from you, not these guys.

If they're putting up images on top of billboards, they're doing EXACTLY the same thing as the billboards are doing: abducting public spaces and stealing people's personal attention. They're taking advantage of the nature of billboards so that people will see their art. So the billboards aren't pushing McDonald's bugers anymore, now they're pushing Hannah Adamaszek's artwork. Which is fine if you like the art that these people are putting up, but it's still something that unnecessarily steals my attention. It's still something that abducts a public space.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:04 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't really care all that much about some vandalized ads (outdoor ads in London are likely insured against this sort of thing anyway, meaning they're not even particularly harming the marketers they claim to loathe.) I just wish they weren't so goddamn precious about it. I get it, advertising is a visual assault or whatever but...please. If you live in a city and you think billboards are one of the most pressing social ills that is probably not a healthy outlook. Is it worse than actual chemical pollution? Worse than the ongoing human tragedy of poverty and homelessness or institutionalized racism? What a coincidence it is that the most important problem requires high-profile self-aggrandizement as the "solution". What bugs me is the overwrought and silly justification for what is ultimately a selfish act.

The funny thing is, many people who work in advertising are frustrated artists and creative types themselves. I'd say the majority of grafitti kids I knew in art school a decade ago now derive at least part of their income from some sort of advertising. Many of these brandalizers stand a good chance of eventually looking like enormous hypocrites.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 8:46 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.

I find this a little troubling since it is people as often as billboards that I find disturbing, taking up my visual space, or taking the piss on some one. If I substituted "people" for companies I am not sure where this would go. BTW, I think Bansky is interesting but certainly not great.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:33 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The important differential is that in a growing number of cities, buildings aren't allowed to keep "graffiti" on them, even if they want to. You can apply to the authorities to install a billboard and rent it out, but if an artist comes along and paints a picture on your wall, the authorities fine you if you don't paint over it - even if you like it and want to keep it.

After all, what shades of grey are acceptable?
posted by Jimbob at 10:22 AM on July 21, 2012


Worse than the ongoing human tragedy of poverty and homelessness or institutionalized racism? [...] Many of these brandalizers stand a good chance of eventually looking like enormous hypocrites.

Graffiti artists are not solving the most pressing problems of humankind and will become ad douchebags. Got it.
posted by user92371 at 1:11 PM on July 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Advertisers abduct public spaces and steal your personal attention

Why is this concept so hard to understand?


Advertisers do not "abduct" public spaces. Advertisers pay for the use of public spaces, which then is used to fund public projects.

....eh, now I'm sounding like a trickle-down theorist, which I'm not.... but it's the failure to recognize the difference between paid for advertising and graffiti that I don't understand. They both might be annoying, but they're not at all equal, and one is not morally better than another.

The other thing is, advertisements can be useful - and that's what irks me. I dislike the majority of ads (it's why I don't watch straight TV) but blaming advertisements for a poor quality of life is so lame (not directed to anyone on this thread - someone wrote a book to this effect about 3-4 years ago). There's an ad for hot dogs around the corner? Well, maybe 90% of people don't want hot dogs, but now 10% of people know where to go for a hotdog. Cover that up with a picture of piece of "art" and now people don't know where to get a hot dog and the hot dog vendor's out a good amount of money as the paid advertisement is not bringing in the customers it's supposed to.

Many things "distract" you - it doesn't mean you should paint over them with your own distracting image. Again, if these artists had simply blown up the billboards I would probably have more respect for their "message" than what they actually did.

But as it stands now it reads, "Don't look at that guy! Look at ME!"
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 1:22 PM on July 21, 2012


Graffiti artists are not solving the most pressing problems of humankind and will become ad douchebags. Got it.


Most people aren't solving the most pressing problems of humanity. That's not the point. Just don't tell me you're addressing some sort of social problem through your juvenile antics when all you're really doing is trying to show off your own talents. The majority of the copy on the website is an elaborate justification for why this grafitti project is so very important to society. And yes, many of these people will sell out eventually and don't know it yet.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 1:37 PM on July 21, 2012


Why is this concept so hard to understand? Is it because the exchange of money somehow legitimizes this activity and makes it "normal"? But graffiti is a CRIME. We have zero tolerance for graffiti, because only people with MONEY get to write stuff on public spaces. This is seriously fucked up.

Because the person who owns the billboard or the side of a building gets to choose what they want to put on it, the same way you get to choose what to put on your property.
posted by gjc at 2:31 PM on July 21, 2012


23skidoo: So the billboards aren't pushing McDonald's bugers anymore, now they're pushing Hannah Adamaszek's artwork. Which is fine if you like the art that these people are putting up, but it's still something that unnecessarily steals my attention. It's still something that abducts a public space.

The problem is that the billboards won't go away. If anything, you'll see more. Sure, in a few lucky places, billboards are actually not allowed. I used to live in one such place, and the billboards that were installed before that rule was put into place are allowed to stay, but if they fall down in a heavy storm or other natural event, they can't come back.

So we're stuck with these hulking ad-spaces, anywhere from 12’ x 24’ up to 20’ x 60’, or larger in key locations. If one were to *disappear* it would be replaced quickly, as that's 288 to 1200 square feet of income for someone. Do you really not care if that space is filled with a random work of art or an advertisement aimed at getting you to buy something you probably don't need?

If that's the case, advertisers no longer have to contend against your annoyance with the visual clutter, and they have to fight for your attention over other visual obstructions. The urban environment is already a visually noisy place, why not make that noise interesting for the sake of art?
posted by filthy light thief at 4:10 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love the casual racism in this one.

By which I mean I really fucking don't.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:12 PM on July 21, 2012


Do you really not care if that space is filled with a random work of art or an advertisement aimed at getting you to buy something you probably don't need?

I don't think "Is this an advertisement?" is the metric that should be used to decide whether something is worth looking at or not. Just because something is "art" doesn't mean that it automatically is going to make the landscape better than something that is "advertising". Some ads are interesting, and some art is downright boring.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:38 PM on July 21, 2012


If they're putting up images on top of billboards, they're doing EXACTLY the same thing as the billboards are doing: abducting public spaces and stealing people's personal attention. They're taking advantage of the nature of billboards so that people will see their art. So the billboards aren't pushing McDonald's bugers anymore, now they're pushing Hannah Adamaszek's artwork. Which is fine if you like the art that these people are putting up, but it's still something that unnecessarily steals my attention. It's still something that abducts a public space.

But did you ever complain about the McDonald's ad? Who are you really defending by calling these kids out? They re-appropriated corporate spaces, without permission, and I think that this kind of thing is much more valuable than simply going with the flow and letting companies own the visual landscape just because they have the money.

Because fuck that. They can't buy everything. We shouldn't be so weak as to allow them to carpet-bomb us with ads like they do, and they shouldn't be allowed to get into our heads simply because they have more money than us. The fact that they have done both of those things so effectively is a huge reason that we're grappling, as a society, with the problems that we are.

tl;dr: if a few kids want to try and subvert corporate propaganda, more power to them. I don't give a single-flying-fuck if they are using it for self-promotion or not. Self-promotion is a lot more valid–in my mind at least–than corporate advertising and mindfuckery.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:10 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Who are you really defending by calling these kids out?

Defending? I'm not defending anyone, I'm just stating my opinion. Most of their art is just as polluting as the advertisements they were covering up.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:04 AM on July 22, 2012


So, self-promotion of an artist is fine, but if a self, say, opens a small business, and self-promotes their business with a billboard, in order to attract customers, then that's carpet-bombing, and should be replaced with some artist's self-promotion. So, only certain kinds of self-promotion are okay?
posted by MythMaker at 9:40 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


why not make that noise interesting for the sake of art?

I agree, in theory. In practice (ooh, a casket with a barcode on it! How agitating!), it's not so enlightening.
posted by Down10 at 12:05 PM on July 22, 2012


Drexen: Which they display for everybody, for free. What would you prefer, that they turned the billboards into giant blackboards everyone could draw on? I mean, that's a neat idea, but it would be kind of shite in practise, wouldn't it?

I agree, except you misspelled "totally awesome!!!".

(This has actually been done thousands of times with non-billboard advert spaces, and the result is invariably more beauty and less esteem-insulting commercialism than the ads.)
posted by IAmBroom at 9:48 PM on July 22, 2012


« Older "I’m off. It’s been a while since I haven’t travel...  |  "Land Team...Ready for action!... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments