A PROJECT BY
Organization: Upper Space
We have created a new framework for an experimental street art project that will explore the relationships between the arts, citizens and the public realm. The AOSD project is a timely response to the threats posed by aggressive consumerism and consumption to global ecosystems and cultural value systems. The project is a radical form of counteraction to the pervasive nature of outdoor advertising, consumer culture and the privatisation of our public spaces. The AOSD project will be in several phases with the first phase commencing in Feb 2012.
Phase 1: Culture Jamming - Art as Social Activism. (funding approved)
Upper Space has developed an experimental art project that will see a nationwide reclamation of unlawful advertising space across the UK. Our research for this phase is highlighting large scale outdoor advertisements that are in direct infringement of UK planning law and mapping their locations within city centres as we seek to reclaim and replace these images with art works that appeal to our shared intrinsic values rather than the extrinsic values that consumerism is so heavily exposing people to.
This first phase will see the installation of socially and environmentally conscious art works in 5 UK cities by a range of UK artists. By priming alternative ‘signals’ to the wider public in these spaces the AOSD project will encourage new debate and discourses about the pervasive effect of advertising within a global society at a time when the effects of our unrestrained consumption are becoming increasingly felt - both at home and in areas that are more sensitive to the effects of climate change.
This phase of the project will be documented for release online in both still and moving image with the creation of a documentary that will contextualise the main themes of the project with support from academic, third sector and arts representatives. We will be communicating academic theory in a ‘bite size’ format for wider transmission.
Phase 2: Ad-Free Towns: The reclaimation of the public realm. (funding needed)
It’s time to reclaim our public places from commercial advertising, and create breathing space for creative, community-oriented communications in their stead. We want to support local communities in doing this.
Ad-free Towns will thus involve Upper Space and the Public Institute Research Centre (PIRC) producing a web platform and online toolkit to support communities in reclaiming space from advertising, and fund a part-time administrator to maintain the website and interface with local groups:
● An online toolkit would help people organise and campaign in their area to control the advertising they are exposed to. The toolkit would contain information on community organising, building a campaign, and using local and national media to create a buzz around the issue. It would also contain detailed advice on using Freedom of Information laws to obtain data from local authorities on outdoor advertising, show how to complain about an advert to the Advertising Standards Authority, and explain how to find out whether a billboard has planning permission or not.
● A web platform for community groups and individuals who want to challenge advertising in their area. This would provide a vibrant place in which people can access information about advertising in their locale, share success stories, tips and news, and allow groups to link up so they feel part of a shared nationwide campaign. The website would be developed by PIRC working with an experienced web developer, and road-tested with a number of community groups. Potential website features include:
○ A Googlemap of all billboards in UK, using a geocoded dataset of advertising hoarding locations, allowing users to see exactly how many outdoor ads they are exposed to;
○ Data on how much is spent to hire each and every billboard hoarding, plus info on how multinational outdoor advertising companies like CBS Outdoor and JCDecaux profit from their placement, rather than money going to local communities;
○ Downloadable smartphone app, making it easy for users to upload photos of specific billboard adverts to the Googlemap - and start to see whether there are patterns in the ways companies advertise, such as ads for junk food near schools;
○ The ability to create local groups, initiate campaigns, add in contacts, and log actions - modelled on the successful example of Fix My Transport. This function would allow communities to quickly muster supporters, share
Phase 3: Ad-Free City: The Sao Paulo effect. (in development)
In September 2006, the mayor of Sao Paolo - the largest city in Brazil, passed the Clean City laws that outlawed all outdoor advertising within the city centre. Upper Space is looking to pilot a similar initiative in the UK with one major difference. We are looking at the inclusion of creative and community orientated communications within the city that will transmit intrinsic messages to the public and utilise the arts as a cultural force for positive cultural behaviour change.
There is more information available if needed and we are keen to meet with other organisations from across Europe to discuss, critically assess and develop this project.