[above: bombing with bucks, Madison Ave. style]
Reading Randy Kennedy’s article documenting the end of an era in the history of graffiti art as the Spring St. haven makes way for bajillion-dollar condos, struck me with great irony after my daily ride in the shuttle at Times Square. There, today, I was confronted with a new kind of graffiti–the bought and paid for, revenue generating kind sanctioned by the MTA as advertising.
City officials call graffiti art–created without permission and without generating ad dollars–vandalism or defacement and spend tax money to remove it from subway cars or non-designated walls. Now advertisers can enjoy a new double standard when it comes to deciding what is good for the public . Ads running in the shuttle transform the car into an encapsulating advertisement and make it part of the barrage of advertising hitting New Yorkers inside taxis, on the sides of buildings, in the grocery store isle, before viewing videos….it never ends.
Almost a year ago, when David Dunlap began lamenting the great 10-year deal Viacom scored with the MTA to place their wrap-ads in the shuttle area, officials planning the ad-bombs actually told him they didn’t want to overwhelm anyone.
Huh? I can think of a few focus group members who might not appreciate a huge alcoholic beverage pouring over their heads. So the dilemma is really whether or not we throw out the “might overwhelm someone” argument altogether and allow ads and graffiti to claim the pristine public space of sidewalks, air space, elevator doors, park walls, intersections….. Just like we tolerate audio noise, New Yorkers may have to up their tolerance to visual noise.
If graffiti is the city’s “broken window” then what is a subway car full of spilling scotch or station pillars covered in luxury chocolate? The city’s “overspending debt crisis?”
[bombing old school: the artists' way]