Maximum Participation Billboard Liberation
By the official rules of billboards, someone pays rent on the sign for
a time, and by doing so can put an image there that turns our
neighborhoods into advertising supplements.
liberation suggests that our eyeballs and our neighborhoods can be
reclaimed and that a billboard can be transformed from being yet another
ad into an explicit critique of advertising and consumerism, or even
This page introduces a further evolution of billboard liberation.
The idea is to transform a billboard from being a medium for a single
message — either one purchased by an advertiser or government, or
one injected by a billboard liberator — to being a medium for
multiple, changing messages from anyone in the community.
How it works
Here’s the billboard we targeted. The brooding ego and well-shaven
torso of the popular musician of the month. No more annoying perhaps
than most other billboards, but certainly ripe for our intended
improvements. “Maybe he deserves” a
chance to express some of the thoughts behind that pensive expression.
First, we covered over the text of the ad with paint to match the
preëxisting background color. Note the painters caps, coveralls,
and orange vest. Not shown in the picture are a handful of orange
traffic cones. For operations like this, I recommend doing it in
broad daylight and looking like you’re just doing your job. A
clipboard with some forms on it is another good prop.
There’s a type of spraypaint that turns the painted surface into a
chalkboard, just like the chalkboards in a classroom. We used
“Krylon Chalk Board Paint” in green, since the background of
the billboard was mostly black to start out with, but they also have a
black chalkboard paint.
We added “thought bubble” ovals in white. Then we filled in
the larger bubble with the chalkboard paint and repainted its border.
We used a strong, double-sided tape to stick a box of chalk to the
billboard. The 3-D box and its
tell-tale color scheme are good visual cues to passers-by — better
than just leaving chalk lying along the billboard’s lower rail.
We included multiple colors of chalk to facilitate the creativity of
participants, and to allow contributions from different people to be
more easily distinguished from one another.
What was he thinking?
It’s important to pick a billboard that is at sidewalk-level. Other
“in arms reach” signs and advertisements can also be used, but
not many people are going to climb a pole or rappel off of a building to
get at a chalkboard.
Not everyone is interested in participating, but a lot of people are eager
to add their own interpretation of what the billboard model might be
- Sniggle.net also has a section on more traditional forms of
- TTC Yanks NOW’s ‘Obscene’
Ads — Toronto's NOW Magazine put up billboards
with a blank space, an attached ink pen, and the caption “Speak
Your Mind.” These billboards, which had been legitimately
bought and paid for by the group, were taken down by transit
- In downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, an artist plans to install
a chalkboard seven feet tall and fifty feet long
as a memorial to free speech.
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