Category Archives: public art

Boarded Up

London-based graphic designer James Reynolds posts up on abandoned buildings and gets some love for it. It is nice to see such a simple and sincere concept for public art.

Post up

Look for Cincinnati’s version around town via Keep Cincinnati Beautiful’s Future Blooms.

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Findlay Doll

Saw this outside Madison’s.

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JR Changing Face of Favelas

(from wooster)

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More Urban Play

More urban play from a masters industrial design student at Central Saint Martin.

71% of adults used to play on the streets when they were young. 21% of children do so now. Are we designing children and play out of the public realm?

This project is a study into different ways of bringing play back into public space. It focuses on ways of incorporating incidental play in the public realm by not so much as having separate play equipment that dictates the users but by using existing furniture and architectural elements that indicate playful behaviour for all. (via pixelsumo)

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Complex Ish

The only complex shit about this art installation by Paul McCarthy is the safety device that failed to work when a storm hit the Paul Klee Center in Bern, Switzerland. Titled Complex Shit, the inflatable dog turd blew away, brought down a power line, and broke a window before landing in the grounds of a children’s home.

From the Telegraph

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Urban Play

I have mentioned the ideas DIY Urbanism here before, but recently came across an interesting project by Droog Design in the Netherlands. Its called Urban Play and is described as a catalyst to inspire creativity in the public domain. The event includes a number of individuals and groups who have come up here before including GRL, You Are Beautiful and a few others.

The site is short on content right now, but it does feature a statement from one of Cincinnati’s cultural “elite”, Aaron Betsky, who says,

Urban Play is designed to take back the street… to give us the tools that let us install ourselves, our friends, our families, our games and our desires in what should be the space we all own collectively. Urban Play is the most promising experiment in not urban design, but designing the urban I have seen so far.

There is a more in-depth overview of the project at the ExperimentaDesign site which mentions

Individuals are taking it upon themselves to physically alter their cities to make them more creative, interactive, personal and fun. What we are witnessing is an unparalleled level of creative urban intervention which represents the intersection of the latest genre of street art and the beginnings of open source urban design.

It is this idea of open source urban design that really caught my attention. This idea suggest that what is commonly considered vandalism can also be a civic endeavor. For all the private property rights advocates out there I know you’ll have a blast with this one, but rest assured, or don’t rest, that these ideas are becoming more intrinsic to the emerging urban culture. Without tolerance for these types of activities cities will have a difficult time remaining competitive. People want to be involved, but they don’t want to sit at the table and speak the language of yesteryear just to be heard.

This comment by curator Scott Burnham sums it up perfectly for me.

While some social attitudes have previously dismissed urban intervention as a form of vandalism, at the heart of this current wave of DIY urban design is in fact a deeply sophisticated movement driven by artists and designers who want to expand our relationship between creativity and the city.

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Streetpostering

An article in re:place, a Vancouver based public space magazine, considers the public rhetoric of streetposters.

To some, posters might be seen as little more than crass, obtrusive clutter. Yet for others they are essential to the lifeblood and culture of a place. Thus, it is important to understand the forces and attitudes that lie behind street posters and the things that allow them to keep popping up even in places they are not supposed to. Their existence is tenuous, but the role of posters in public life should not be overlooked.

…street posters also reflect something deeper: the creativity, entrepreneurship, passion and political ideals of communities…

As much as urban enthusiasts might fantasize about the city as a place of surprise and wonder, there is also an opposing tendency to contain, define, and regulate public spaces. Ironically, the lack of formal respect for street postering is partly a function of the fact that posters represent culture without permission and, almost by nature, are not intended to be formal or particularly orderly.

No doubt the internet and social networking sites (in particular) have taken on an expanded role in the public sphere, disseminating information and building community. But these mediated forms ultimately do not work on the same tactile level. Think of street posters as part of a broader community dialog: one in which anyone with an idea, a message, and a willingness to put in a little effort can participate in.

Postering, at its core, is culture without permission. The lack of formality and established order are what give street posters a unique kind of validity. There are layers upon layers of significance both in the act of postering and the posters themselves that speaks to the need for negotiating between order and disorder. Posters themselves are not an end. What is more important is that such negotiations happen.

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