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December 29, 2009 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Times Square > Art Square: "a very complex project with a simple goal: to turn all advertising on Times Square into art."
posted by divabat (39 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
So basically you donate money so that artists can display their work on those hideous oversized billboards for a very short time? The plan is to outspend dozens of megacorporations? Really?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:06 PM on December 29, 2009


Off to paint Apotheosis of Dasani and solicit donations from Coke.
posted by decagon at 9:08 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


As per Optimus and decagon, I can only see this ending with an hour of "artistic" ads thought up by modern-day mad men for all the big megacorporations. Complete with a 2 hour reality tv special on the "artists" with prominent product placement.
posted by i less than three nsima at 9:13 PM on December 29, 2009


The plan is to outspend dozens of megacorporations?

Aaaaand... the haters are in! Now, Optimus, I know it's easy to be cynical about this kind of thing, but come on, man, if everyone thought this way, hell, nothing unexpected or interesting would ever get done! And I imagine the folks putting this idea together are savvy enough to know that they won't in a million years "outspend" any major corporation. They probably have their goals set on working with, as they mentioned, the billboard companies, who would, theoretically, offer up some billboard space at reduced rates as a gesture of goodwill, and to demonstrate some community spirit. That sort of thing has happened before, for example, with the old light board at Times Square, IIRC.

Off to paint Apotheosis of Dasani and solicit donations from Coke.

Um, corporate sponsorship of art is something that happens a lot. Surely you must be aware of that.

I can only see this ending with an hour of "artistic" ads thought up by modern-day mad men for all the big megacorporations.

A man can only see as far as his imagination allows...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:18 PM on December 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


If they can't bring back Cup Noodle, this is all a sham.
posted by mike_bling at 9:21 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the blog:

Sure, it’s a ridiculous idea. Too ambitious, not realistic at all ... Yet that’s what I like about it. Because I think this project will show how our societies have changed. We’re a networked society and we’re gonna prove it.

I have mixed feelings about this. It would be wonderful if they could get some awesome art in Times Square even for a short period of time. But I don't think the motivation should be to prove that society is "networked," since that's been fairly well-established already. This should be about the art itself. Art is its own reward, dammit.

I can only see this ending with an hour of "artistic" ads thought up by modern-day mad men for all the big megacorporations.

They wouldn't really need donations to do that.
posted by Lobster Garden at 9:21 PM on December 29, 2009


Aaaaand... the haters are in! Now, Optimus, I know it's easy to be cynical about this kind of thing, but come on, man, if everyone thought this way, hell, nothing unexpected or interesting would ever get done!

A huge check is cut to some company who doesn't give a shit what's up there. Eight seconds of the multimedia installation Dude with Sick-Ass Bong is shown on a 168" screen, once. No one notices or cares. I don't think this is a victory for art. I would rather just buy a little kid some watercolors.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:30 PM on December 29, 2009 [9 favorites]


Merry Christmas! War is over!
posted by Nick Verstayne at 9:44 PM on December 29, 2009


It's an interesting idea, but I feel that this is counterproductive and attacks artists who specialize in commercial works such as the advertising in Times Square. The root of the problem lies in the American perceptions of art and artists, which is contradictory:

96% of Americans say they were greatly inspired by various kinds of art and highly value art in their lives and communities. But only 27% of respondents believe that artists contribute "a lot" to the good of society.
posted by autoclavicle at 10:25 PM on December 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Gems from the site: Tell you're friend what you're doing.
The impossible idea to turn an enormous commercial machine into an art exhibition was the wonderful fruit of Justus Bruns’ flight of imagination.
So where are we now? We're live!


Maybe I'm too drunk and full of snark, but this has all kinds of wrong going on.

Good find, though, divabat! Food for thought and all that.
posted by battlebison at 11:09 PM on December 29, 2009


Okay, I'm know I'm being really pedantic, but ">" generally means "greater-than", not "made into" or "transformed into". I say this only because I think the perceived value of genuinely interesting conceptual material can be seriously undermined by lazy (versus intentionally-ambiguous) presentation.
posted by treepour at 11:50 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh, the '>' thing got me too. But it's an interesting idea, and I submitted a couple of videos. Even if they're only up there once ever, it's 15 minutes of madness more than there would have been otherwise.
posted by divabat at 6:38 AM on December 30, 2009


Autoclavicle: that pretty much describes how artists are viewed worldwide. "ooh pretty!-go get a real job."
posted by divabat at 6:41 AM on December 30, 2009


Let's see...it's artists who create the ads (try telling anyone on the creative side of advertising that they aren't artists).....it's artists who want to subvert the ads....me thinks we have reached the end of modern art.
posted by spicynuts at 6:59 AM on December 30, 2009


Ummm... do they know about The 59th Minute? If not, they should probably do some research.
posted by The Bellman at 7:22 AM on December 30, 2009


Andy Warhol wins the pennant! Andy Warhol wins the pennant!
posted by Babblesort at 7:39 AM on December 30, 2009


Advertising is art.
posted by mpbx at 7:49 AM on December 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


"...me thinks we have reached the end of modern art."

Well, we have reached the end of modern art: it's generally called contemporary art or postmodern art these days.
posted by autoclavicle at 7:52 AM on December 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ok, I typed 'modern art' with a lower case 'm' not an uppercase 'M'. So I was not referring to the movement called Modern Art, I was referring to art in the modern day. Anyway, I think you take my point, yes?
posted by spicynuts at 8:13 AM on December 30, 2009


Advertising is art.

Quoted for truth. (All those old oil paintings of wealthy patrons or religious figures? Same thing.)
posted by device55 at 8:28 AM on December 30, 2009


I wouldn't mind seeing someone like Banksy take a shot at this.
posted by empath at 8:37 AM on December 30, 2009


Advertising is art.

Quoted for truth. (All those old oil paintings of wealthy patrons or religious figures? Same thing.)


Wouldn't advertising be more like a trade or craft than art? Like artist's drawings in text-books (where talent and competency come into play, but the intent is different).

I know art has a long history of being patronized and funded by people with various agendas and interests, but I'm not sure I'd call advertising "art".
posted by rosswald at 8:51 AM on December 30, 2009


Really? How about all those prints of French champagne advertising from the 20s and 30s that graces people's walls and are collected by galleries/museums/collectors? How about Russian film posters from the 40s? Advertising is art, it just sometimes takes historical distance for people to accept that fact. Also, some of the greatest photography of the end of the 20th Century has come from advertising (fashion, mostly).
posted by spicynuts at 9:02 AM on December 30, 2009


Wouldn't advertising be more like a trade or craft than art?

Like photography? Or Ceramics? Or printmaking? All of these things have pragmatic uses, but that doesn't preclude them from being art forms. The distinction between "craft" and "art" is largely categorical, and not due to intrinsic properties of the means of expression. There is more than a little snobbery thrown in for good measure. What is the real difference between an abstract metal sculpture and a Lucero teapot? Do those differences preclude one from belonging in a museum? If the teapot doesn't belong in the museum, why does a Damien Hirst bisected shark in a tank of formaldehyde belong there?

but I'm not sure I'd call advertising "art"

Why not, specifically. What components of advertising prevent it from being art?
posted by device55 at 9:06 AM on December 30, 2009


Yes. It's art, even if you get paid for it.
posted by autoclavicle at 9:10 AM on December 30, 2009


What components of advertising prevent it from being art?

Imminent function. Advertising is design.
posted by xod at 9:32 AM on December 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Back up a second. This side-conversation started with spicynuts' observation that a group of (young) artists intending to subvert the work of another set of (advertising) artists heralds the end of contemporary art. (I'm tempted to put 'subvert,' 'artists,' and 'artists' in scare-quotes, but that's because I'm a jerk). Putting aside the question of whether contemporary ads can read as art in that context -- let's take that as true, for now -- I'm not really following how the supposed irony involved heralds the end of anything. Couldn't you say the same thing about the folks in the 70s and 80s who were manipulating TV recordings or paying to place their work in TV ad slots? That they were 'subverting' the work of 'artists' working in television? I'm not seeing the End of Culture angle here.

But back on the original topic, renting a few minutes on a jumbotron doesn't sound so novel (and as The Bellman pointed out, Creative Time's been doing it for a while now, the last minute of each hour). But if they could somehow rent all the billboards in Times Square for a week, that would be pretty neat, no? I'd be tempted to cheer that on even if all the work they put up were horrendous.
posted by nobody at 9:43 AM on December 30, 2009


Having programmed 3 of the Times Square spectaculars (that's what they're called,) including having cadged time on the Nasdaq sign for my own personal artwork, I wish them all the luck in the world. They'll need it. These things each run one-of-a-kind video formats, they are all color calibrated differently, it can take hours of manual work just to insert a graphic into the playlist, you can expect little or no time to preview and test, and many of the visual capabilities of the signs are not supported in software because the project ran out of money building the hardware.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:02 AM on December 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


in a vodka-brand world
posted by jcruelty at 10:06 AM on December 30, 2009


I wonder how many people have ever tried to just do giant banner drops from the One Times Sq. building. And I wonder if these guys would be better off just doing that and paying off the bail. Of course I guess they'd probably be terror-boarded for that by now.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 10:09 AM on December 30, 2009


do they know about The 59th Minute?

See also: The Metropolis Art Prize
posted by xod at 10:21 AM on December 30, 2009


Motherfucker! I've been trying to get this done on the NYC subway for the past year, with an almost identical model. Did I run into justus burns when drunk at a party (so drunk, that I learned and then subsequently forgot how to speak German) and spill the beans? (Our version worked as an instant-runoff, where as soon as we had enough money overall to put one art up, it would all go to the piece with the most votes)

I'm really trying not to be bitter and trolling here, but I am seriously upset. CBS Outdoor, who owns almost all the advertising space in New York, returns my calls about once every two months, and it's been a nightmare dealing with them and all their lawyer-talk. How did he get around that? Clout? Money?
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:27 AM on December 30, 2009


Advertising is often comprised of various forms of commercial art, which as xod points out is a subset of design. Fine art is distinct from commercial art and design (the latter includes graphic design, illustration, industrial design, etc.) although in modernity both the commercial and fine art sectors pillage from one another.

Distinctions can be made between work that is commissioned and/or directed by a client and carried out in order to promote the client's own message, and creative work that is primarily self-directed, self-conceptualized, and self defined. Commercial art forms are pressed into service to sell something other than their own existence, and are usually (but not always) designed with mass dissemination and reproduction in mind.

With the majority of traditional fine art, (many forms of video art and conceptual art practice excluded) physically experiencing the actual art object or art performance, rather than just a representation or reproduction of it, is of primary importance.

I have worked in both the fine art and commercial art sectors, and the two are very, very different animals.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:43 AM on December 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nah, unless I'm misreading, they're at the put-up-a-website-and-get-inexperienced-artists-to-get-excited-about-their-work-being-shown-publicly-and-try-to-raise-money-but-don't-really-know-if-they'll-sell-us-billboard-space-or-screen-time-once-we-have-the-dough-because-we-haven't-talked-to-them-yet stage.

Does CBS Outdoor manage the ad space inside the subway cars now, too? Filling a car with a single repeated print instead of ads sounds lovely. I bet you're miles ahead of their plans, Jon.
posted by nobody at 11:43 AM on December 30, 2009


(should have previewed. That "nah" was in reply to Jon_Evil's last few questions.)
posted by nobody at 11:47 AM on December 30, 2009


See also: The Metropolis Art Prize...

On December 17 the winning videos in the Metropolis Art Prize 2009 were screened on giant monitors in Times Square...


There are several Jumbotron-style video screens in Times Square, but they are the least impressive elements of that landscape. As I mentioned above, all the really impressive signage runs bespoke formats with very particular viewing constraints, and showing your pre-made video on them will not be effective, nor would it be appropriate to this very special medium. If you want to run your existing video art on a giant TV, you'd be better off targeting football stadiums that have much bigger screens running standard formats.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:53 AM on December 30, 2009


I liked Jason Eppink's DIY approach to taking over video advertising screens better (caution, loud electronic music): The Pixelator
posted by stagewhisper at 12:02 PM on December 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, Nobody, I guess they just have more chutzpah than me. But yes, CBS Outdoor manages the inside-the-subway ads.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:02 PM on December 30, 2009


Times Square was art back before it was Disney. At least it was art to me. And I guess that's my definition of art.

Hookers, drug dealers. The chance that you might be hurt going from the A train to the F train.

24 hour porno and crappy Kung Fu movies.

Cheap hamburgers and hotdogs.

The best place to get beef and noodles in the WORLD!

Live sex shows.

Neon and vomit.

Doesn't anyone remember the center of the world?

It was an open festering sore. And I loved it. Then some asshole (or holes) decided to debride it and disinfect it and bandage it and heal it.

Now it is a scar. Not even a decent scab.

You want art?

Too late suckers. Now it's just plastic bullshit. Fuck you.
posted by Splunge at 8:50 PM on December 30, 2009


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