“Bob-omb,” an all-GIF augmented reality exhibition in NO AD

February 20th, 2015 | By | 1 Comment »
A screenshot from Bob-omb, featuring stills of art by James Kerr (Scorpion Dagger) and Dave Whyte.

A screenshot from Bob-omb, featuring stills of art by James Kerr (Scorpion Dagger) and Dave Whyte.

Wow. That headline is full of some jargon and gibberish… Sorry. Let me explain…

Today marks the launch of the latest exhibition in NO AD, a new evolution for the smartphone app that simulates a world in which New York City’s subway station advertisements are replaced with public art. NO AD, which I’ve written about before, uses augmented reality to digitally replace the ads on your phone’s screen. Here’s how it works.

NO AD has become a really interesting exhibition space, somewhere between a digital exhibition and a guerrilla street art exhibition. The very platform is an artwork, so NO AD’s art exhibitions exist within another work of art, and the platform gets you thinking as much as the art it displays.

I’m honored that the NO AD creators (between PublicAdCampaign, The Heavy Projects, and The Subway Art Blog under the umbrella of Re+Public) asked me to curate the first exhibition NO AD made up entirely of animated GIF art. That exhibition, titled Bob-omb, launched today and includes artwork from by The Barkers, Caitlin Burns, Dave Whyte, Hrag Vartanian, James Kerr – Scorpion Dagger, Jeremyville, Maori Sakai, Molly Soda, Paolo Čerić aka Patakk, Ryan Seslow, The Current Sea, YoMeryl, and Zack Dougherty.

In the past, the vast majority of content in NO AD has been static images, but Bob-omb takes full advantage of the platform by focusing exclusively on animated pieces, transforming static advertisements into dynamic artworks.

Bob-omb is an effort to weaponize GIF art as a tool for reimaging public space while simultaneously highlighting the variety and depth possible with the medium. The artists range from filmmakers to illustrators to journalists, and their work varies from hyper-short documentary videos to abstract digital illustration.

To view Bob-omb, simply download NO AD for your iPhone or Android device (or update it if you’ve already got the app on your phone), find a New York City subway station, open the app, and start pointing your phone at the ads. Or download/update the app and try the test image below.

I want to give a big thank you to all of the artists in Bob-omb and the team behind NO AD for this opportunity.

test image

Test image: Download NO AD and use this image to see how it works.

Images courtesy of NO AD


Category: Featured Posts, Gallery/Museum Shows, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This app turns the NYC subway system into an art gallery

September 10th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
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NO AD beta-testers and friends of Vandalog, Luna Park and laserburners

I should be working on something else right now. I should be doing writing that I really need to finish ASAP, writing that could bring me some considerable upside both in money and reputation. But then Jordan Seiler and the heavy projects (as Re+Public) and Subway Art Blog went and released their awesome and eagerly anticipated new app: NO AD. So I’ve become momentarily distracted, and you should be too. Go download NO AD right now (for Android or iPhone), especially if you live in New York City.

NO AD is an augmented reality application that gives you a glimpse of the New York City subway system without advertisements, a world where billboards are for art instead of ads. NO AD replaces the top 100 ads in the subway system at any given moment with art. How? By using the ads like QR codes. Simply download the app to your phone, open it while you’re on a New York City subway platform, and point your camera at an advertisement. On your phone’s screen, you’ll see the ad almost magically replaced by artwork. Download the app now, and give it a try with this image:

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See how amazing that is?

And here’s a short video about the app:

This idea isn’t entirely new. NO AD may remind some readers of Steve Lambert’s Add-Art or Julian Oliver’s The Artvertiser. But Add-Art hasn’t been functional for some time and The Artvertiser never really made it beyond a fun experiment and no longer appears to be in development, so it’s great to see other artists take up the mantle of digitally and legally replacing ads with art.

One question that I’m sure will come up: How does NO AD know what subway ads look like? The app developers essentially have to feed the app information about what ads are up in subway stations at any given time, which means that they have to go out and photograph every different subway ad they can find and rotate ads in and out of the app. As new ads rotate in, so will new artwork.

On some level, NO AD is an ad takeover tool. It takes space that is currently filled with ads and replaces those very specific ads with art. They could have just as easily used other objects around NYC as “triggers” for the art, but they decided to go with ads. Plus, for the initial launch, they’ve partnered with about 50 artists, many of whom have been outspoken critics of public advertising.

Today, NO AD is a kind of “what if,” a thought experiment to get people thinking about what it would be like to replace the ads with art, because of course you still need to take out your phone, open the app, and look at specific ads to see the artwork. So, essentially, it could be said that the app is a gimmick to get people thinking about replacing ads with art, rather than a tool to actually achieve that.

But NO AD may not be just a thought experiment in a few years. Fast forward to when everyone and their mother is wearing some version of Google Glass all day long. There will still be ads on the subway, but with NO AD running in the background on your Google Glass, you won’t see the ads. You’ll just see art exhibitions.

And that’s the other half of NO AD, the part that is more than just a thought experiment or a very long-term thinking anti-advertising strategy: It’s potential as an exhibition space. The first set of artists whose work is being exhibited through NO AD (including Vandalog’s Caroline Caldwell) are a motley crew of experimenters and friends of the organizers, which isn’t such a bad thing since these guys have some very talented friends, but imagine given a single artist a chance to take over all of the ads on the subway, or bringing in a professional curator to use NO AD and the subway system as an exhibition space in a more organized way. NO AD is an exhibition space that exists somewhere between the physical and the digital, always bringing with it an energy of political activism and chance.

NO AD is a glimpse into the future, a new exhibition space, and a platform for activism. I’m excited.


Category: Art News, Featured Posts | Tags: , , , , , ,

PUBLIC by FORM Gallery – Perth – Western Australia

August 10th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
ROA - Photo by ROA

ROA. Photo by ROA.

I’m back after a brief blogging hiatus. I’ve been meaning to post my review for this great event that happened back in April over in Western Australia for a while now…

Leaving a cold wet 17 degrees in Melbourne, I was pretty damn excited to fly to Perth on the 10th of April, right in time for the grand finale of PUBLIC by Form Gallery in Perth, Western Australia, which I posted a preview of a while ago.

I arrived to a perfect sunny 30 degrees and soon as I hit the ground, I had a good feeling about Perth, I hadn’t been before, but something felt right. I went straight to the hotel and dropped off my bags, and went for an explore. Within a few hundred metres of my hotel, I could see the amazing Phlegm and ROA murals in progress. I made a beeline straight for them. Upon entering the car park I also saw the work of many other great artists. The works were spread throughout the CBD and inner city suburbs. Here’s a selection of some of my favourite pieces from the event.

ROA - Photo by Bewley Shaylor

ROA. Photo by Bewley Shaylor.

Pixel Pancho - Photo by Dean Sunshine

Pixel Pancho. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Pixel Pancho - Photo by Pixel Pancho

Pixel Pancho. Photo by Pixel Pancho.

Pixel Pancho - Photo by Pixel Pancho

Pixel Pancho. Photo by Pixel Pancho.

Phibs - Photo by Luke Shirlaw

Phibs. Photo by Luke Shirlaw.

Hyuro - Photo by Luke Shirlaw 2

Hyuro. Photo by Luke Shirlaw.

Hyuro - Photo by Luke Shirlaw

Hyuro. Photo by Luke Shirlaw.

Phlegm - Photo by David Dare Parker

Phlegm. Photo by David Dare Parker.

Alexis Diaz - Photo by Alexis Diaz

Alexis Diaz. Photo by Alexis Diaz.

Alexis Diaz (detail) - Photo by Alexis Diaz

Alexis Diaz (detail). Photo by Alexis Diaz.

Amok Island - Photo by Amok Island

Amok Island. Photo by Amok Island.

Ever - Photo by Ever

Ever. Photo by Ever.

GAIA - Photo by Dean Sunshine

GAIA. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

GAIA and Ever - Photo by Brendan Hutchens

GAIA and Ever. Photo by Brendan Hutchens.

Lucas Grogan - Photo by Dean Sunshine

Lucas Grogan. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Lucas Grogan - Photo by Jean-Pierre Horre

Lucas Grogan. Photo by Jean-Pierre Horre.

2501 - Photo by Luke Shirlaw

2501. Photo by Luke Shirlaw.

Maya Hayuk - Photo by Jean-Pierre Horre

Maya Hayuk. Photo by Jean-Pierre Horre.

2501 vs Maya Hayuk - Photo by 2501

2501 vs Maya Hayuk. Photo by 2501.

Beastman and Vans the Omega - Photo by Dean Sunshine

Beastman and Vans the Omega. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

HEAVY Projects - Photo by Dean Sunshine

HEAVY Projects. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

HEAVY Projects - Photo by Dean Sunshine

HEAVY Project. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

HEAVY Projects - Photo by Dean Sunshine

HEAVY Projects. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

HEAVY Projects - Photo by HEAVY Projects

HEAVY Projects. Photo by HEAVY Projects.

While the event spanned over ~30 days, the main event was the painting of Perth’s 1st ever giant murals over the last 3/4 days of the event. In total there were around 30 murals painted for the event, spanning across the City of Perth. I was very impressed by the organization of the event by the FORM Gallery crew. With a logistical nightmare trying to coordinate over 45 artists, paint and equipment, all in 35 degree heat, the FORM Crew did an amazing job, Well done guys!!! A very friendly and hospitable crew. Thanks very much for taking such great care of us while we visited.

There was a great selection of artists from ac cross the globe representing all different styles and genres. Unfortunately there was no graffiti, but I suppose street art was a big stretch for conservative Perth, so graffiti may have been avoided for this reason. For a city not really known for street art, the public reaction was encouraging. People of all ages and walks of life filled the city over the weekend. I love walking around randomly and listening to some of the conversations and questions people ask each other. In particular I was really impressed by the public’s reactions to the HEAVY PROJECTS installations (interactive works of art that use Augmented Reality on smart phones and tablets). Here’s a short video the guys out together to document the event (plus some footage from a previous project).

Re+Public: Austin + Perth from The Heavy Projects on Vimeo.

On the Friday night there was also a great show at FORM Gallery – PUBLIC SALON showing off canvases from the contributing artists, some great work on display, check out some shots here.

And finally. This great video by Chad Peacock is a really accurate representation of the event and well put together. Damn it takes me back!!!


The FORM guys also took a number of artists to visit the Pilbara, a very special part of top end of Australia with breathtaking views and incredible nature (also sadly known for mining – the 2 don’t really go hand in hand). A few of the artists had a paint while there, I particularly like the piece by Remed.

Remed - Photo by Ben Fulton-Gillon

Remed. Photo by Ben Fulton-Gillon.

2501 and Remed - Photo by 2501

2501 and Remed. Photo by 2501.

2501 and ROA - Photo by 2501

2501 and ROA. Photo by 2501.

2501 and Alexis Diaz - Photo by 2501

2501 and Alexis Diaz. Photo by 2501.

After all of the above, any street art fan in Perth would have to be pretty happy, but it didn’t stop there. FORM has continued putting up murals in Perth, with Creepy (aka Kyle Hughes-Odgers) painting at Perth Airport (a sponsor of PUBLIC) and also Vans the Omega and Beastman’s new piece that went up last week.

Kyle Hughes-Odgers - Photo by  Kyle Hughes-Odgers

Kyle Hughes-Odgers. Photo by Kyle Hughes-Odgers.

Kyle Hughes-Odgers - Photo by Kyle Hughes-Odgers

Kyle Hughes-Odgers. Photo by Kyle Hughes-Odgers.

Vans the Omega & Beastman - Photo by Jarrad Seng

Vans the Omega & Beastman. Photo by Jarrad Seng.

Vans the Omega & Beastman (detail) - Photo by Jarrad Seng

Vans the Omega & Beastman (detail). Photo by Jarrad Seng.

What I loved most about the event wasn’t just the art, and was not unique to PUBLIC; is the sense of community I felt. This is something I really love about the street art scene. I got to catch up with some great old friends, and made some new ones who I will undoubtedly randomly catch up with again somewhere around the globe.

Fingers crossed that this event is on again next year. I will be there with bells on!

If you are in Perth, check out the full list of artists and the mural map. FORM has also put together this short book called PUBLICation available for Purchase at the Gallery and viewable online for free here. FORM have also started “PUBLIC Urban Art Walks” to give fans a guided tour of the city, well worth checking out.

Ok, so that’s enough, right? Actually no, there’s more. And it’s massive. Due to some logistical 😉 issues SANER was unable to make it over for the original dates. I was gutted to hear this when I found out, but when I found out FORM are still bringing him over in August to paint in Perth and also the Pilbara, I was pretty damn excited! I’ll make sure to cover this later in the month.

Photos courtesy of: ROA, Dean Sunshine, Bewley Shaylor, FORM, Pixel Pancho, Luke Shirlaw, David Dare Parker, Alexis Diaz, Amok Island, 2501, Ever, Brendan Hutchens, Jean-Pierre Horre, HEAVY Projects, Ben Fulton-Gillon, Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Jarrad Seng.


Category: Festivals, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,