Note from RJ: It’s been a little while since we posted any of Tim Hans‘ photos, but his series of artist portraits is still ongoing. Today we have our latest photo from Tim, one he took of Jordan Seiler at the site of one of Jordan’s ad takeovers. Rhiannon Platt asked Jordan a few questions. – RJ
Under the moniker of PublicAdCampaign, artist and activist Jordan Seiler aims to help the public regain control of their visual atmosphere. His latest project, Public Access, aims to give artists the power to change their visual landscape. The artist has reproduced keys for bus shelters and phone booths for several countries, beginning first in New York and recently expanding to Brussels for an exhibition with Harlan B. Levy Projects. Today is also the launch of the app Re+Public, an augmented reality app for iPhone and Android created by Jordan and The Heavy Projects.
Rhiannon Platt: When did you first start combating commercialism with takeovers?
Jordan Seiler: I began ad takeovers in December of 2000 with an entire station takeover at the 18th street 1/9 stop. It took about 32 posters to cover both platforms. At that point, and somewhat still to this day, it isn’t about combating commercialism but rather deciding for ourselves what our collective visual landscape looks like.
Rhiannon: What made you want to start Public Ad Campaign? Was there a specific instance that you can point to?
Jordan: My first takeover was motivated purely by aesthetics. I thought the station would feel quite different with a new set of images. It was only once that feeling manifested, and I began to worry about being caught by the cops, that I began to see the differences between commercial and public media production.
Rhiannon: How does your passion for ad-busting manifest itself in your other work?
Jordan: I know this sounds trite but I prefer the word ad-takeover to ad-bust. An ad-bust suggests a play on meaning, a decrypting of the encoded media message to reveal its weaknesses or faults. My feeling is that we are already very good at reading between the lines and seeing most commercial messages for what they are. Despite this critical insight we sill cannot seem to resist their allure. Ad-takeovers on the other hand obliterate the initial media message and in doing so demand the space be used for other conversations. I think this is a very important distinction because if we are going to wrestle with the impact of media messages on our society, we need a critical distance from which to start. Ad takeovers demand an ad free public space and by extension ask the question of what we might fill that space with. I think with most of my other projects that aren’t directly ad-takeovers, I try to ask the question of how we might collectively take up the responsibility of public media production by encouraging other people’s participation, and exploring new tools for public media production.
Rhiannon: Are you currently working on any projects?
Jordan: I am currently working on a project called Public Access where I make tools that can be used to open advertising locations around the world so that people can engage their public media space directly. This is an ongoing project and I hope to continue to add more tools and more accessible cities in the coming years. I am also about to launch the Re+Public AR mobile app with my partner from The Heavy Projects. Our newest collaboration with MOMO was a wonderful experience and we are excited to finally make the app widely available through iOS and Android platforms.
Photo by Tim Hans