December 1st, 2010 by D.Billy
It had been a looong day of walking around Brooklyn with a bag full of colored tape, looking for something to touch off an idea for another site intervention. That’s how it works for me. I’ve gotta lug the materials around and just sort of wait for the lightning to strike. I can target an area that’s likely to have some interesting detritus to do my wandering in, but that’s about it. The rest is out of my hands.
Late in the afternoon when I was pretty well sick of walking, and the sun was hitting a beautiful angle that I knew wouldn’t last for long, I turned down a dead-end industrial street in western Greenpoint. I can usually count on the side streets and factory lots near the East River waterfront to give me something to work with, and it seemed like this spot would be no exception. Among the mostly empty parking spaces of this factory lot, between cracks in the pavement that were filling in with tall, unruly grass, there was a wood-paneled TV with its screen smashed in; a metal folding chair missing its seat; a scattering of food wrappers and discarded shoes; a stack of plywood and shipping pallets; and the requisite nasty mattress, old tires, and busted auto glass. I stared at all of that bizness for a while, mentally rearranging things and visualizing appropriate sound effects for the possible vignettes… but nothing was switching me on. Not really.
I turned around ready to leave, and saw that I had been joined on the ground by a group of pigeons that had been watching from the factory roof. They were slowly head-bobbing in the direction of a rock-hard partial loaf of bread that someone must have been using to feed them at some point. It hit me like (insert your favorite metaphor for inspiration here): with a combination of crusty old bread to draw them in, and a good stomp on a stack of plywood to make them scatter, I might be able to choreograph these dirty little bastards.
So I laid down my tape, bloodied my fingertips a little bit breaking up the hardest loaf of bread known to man, arranged the bread near the tape-writing, and then repeated the picture-taking cycle: I waited for the pigeons to get up on the bread, stomped like hell on the nearby plywood, and snapped a picture of them scattering. Wait. Stomp. Snap. Wait. Stomp. Snap. Now let me tell you – it is damned hard to properly frame a shot without a tripod or remote shutter release, while repeatedly thwomping your leg down like a jackass. But I managed to get a few decent photos in the end. Here’s my favorite:
Mini-promo time: This shot, along with documentation of other recent interventions “WAAHHH” and “ZZZAP”, and a handful of my recent collages, will be on display (and for sale) from December 11th, 2010 through February 13th, 2011, as part of the group exhibition “PARTY CRASHERS” in Arlington, Virginia. Check it out if you’re down that way!
September 2nd, 2010 by D.Billy
I don’t know about you all, but I spent MY last Saturday biking around Red Hook, getting selectively sunburnt and looking for weird scenes that I could make a little weirder. Mid-afternoon (after a stop for some amazing pulled pork and root beer on tap at Brooklyn Ice House), I happened upon an abandoned baby stroller between a couple of warehouses and went to work with the colored tape. Here is the result:
More photos at the end of this Flickr set.
August 11th, 2010 by D.Billy
A truck graffitied with an image of a graffitied truck. I heart this.
Spotted in Brooklyn & tweeted by Museum Nerd.
July 19th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon
I saw this while walking through the East Village last month — some enterprising street artist scrawled “Become Your Dream” on a forgotten, stained mattress.
Stuff like this makes my soul sing. On the one hand, it’s inspiring and hopeful, maybe from a mattress who’s supported the butts of slumbering royalty, seen the worst of the world and doesn’t regret a thing. Or maybe it’s a cautionary tale: no matter what your dream is or how hard you try, you’re going to end up left on the street to be pissed on by dogs and drunks alike.
July 9th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon
I saw this on the streets of Philadelphia in the Fall of 2008. I think. It’s pretty much a lot of my favorite things in one place: bright pink, comic book imagery, a worn and weathered texture.
The rest really needs no commentary.
July 8th, 2010 by D.Billy
Look – when we go into a place of business, sometimes things just happen, that’s all. Whether it’s a coffee shop or a fried chicken joint, events have conspired to provide us with some experiences that we have been moved to share with you, our lovely readers. Experiences that many of you have then chosen to share with others in turn. The internet is a bigger, crazier, more tricked-out vehicle for sharing consumer feedback than Al Gore could ever have imagined back when he invented it, and the right (or wrong) kind review on the web can conceivably launch a place or shut it right down.
But while some of us run to Yelp to post a review and tell all of the other consumerist nerds to check this place out or stay the hell away from that place, some folks still like to keep it analog. And I respect that. Here are a few ad-hoc, word-on-the-street* “reviews” that I’ve personally stumbled across:
*Clearly, the word is not the only thing on the street. This was one block away from the Dallas BBQ… and if that substance on the paper is what I think it is… well, that had to be some mighty fast Sharpie work to draft part A of the review before part B asserted itself. To me, this is almost like a quick & dirty sort of voodoo ceremony.
Read the rest of this entry »
July 1st, 2010 by D.Billy
In an on-camera interview for the 2007 documentary Helvetica, famed graphic designer Massimo Vignelli said:
“The life of a designer is a life of fight. Fight against the ugliness. Just like a doctor fights against disease. For us, the visual disease is what we have around, and what we try to do is cure it somehow with design.”
A little over the top, maybe… but the man DID design one of my favorite maps of all time, so I’m gonna cut him some slack for the hyperbole.
Anyway, to whatever extent a given graphic designer attempts to innoculate us against any particular outbreak of unattractive information, it’s usually because someone has ASKED them to do it. Which is one of the reasons that Cardon Webb’s “Cardon Copy” project stands out.
Designer Cardon Webb hijacked posters from public spaces — mostly fliers of lost pets, and “for rent” or “for sale” signs — took them home, designed fresh posters using the same information, and then posted the new designs back in the places where he found the originals.
Read the rest of this entry »
June 22nd, 2010 by D.Billy
Spotted on the subway platform at Union Square:
There’s no rain
there’s no me
I’m tellin ya man
sure as shit.
April 23rd, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon
My self-promotion-averse co-blogger D.Billy has been colossally busy as of late. He was responsible for having to help prep Cooper Union for Obama’s visit this week, a task that I’m sure glad I didn’t have to perform. I can barely remember to put out a fresh roll of toilet paper when people come over to my place.
D.Billy’s also been slogging it up and down 95 on various buses to see his lady, a process that I am abundantly familiar with. That really, really sucks, because you can’t even complain about it properly. I mean, shit, you still got a girlfriend at the end of the bus ride, right, so who are you to fuss?
There is ALWAYS somebody who is either 1) freestyle rapping to their headphones 2) eating something deep-fried or 3) wearing huge sunglasses and an empire-waist dress and talking in a nasal whine about some guy they’re “just hanging out with, whatever,” on the four-hour slog out of New York on the bus on a Friday night, though. And lady at the end or not, that gets mighty old.
None of this is a valid excuse for not blogging much, though. The real reason this blog’s been fallow lately: we both just tired as hell.
I’m pleased to report that D.Billy has not been too busy or tired to throw up a new Site Intervention, though. Check this bad thing out:
You can see the rest of his Site Interventions here.
March 4th, 2010 by D.Billy
A while back, the folks at Gestalten included a few of my site intervention projects in a lovely book called Tangible: High Touch Visuals.
I highly recommend it, and its sister book Tactile. They’re both chock full of excellent artists and designers, and I break them out in a fit of “you-gotta-check-this-stuff-out” fever to anyone who comes anywhere near my bookshelves.
Anyway, the reason I’m bringing all of this bizness up again is that they have also been so kind as to include yours truly in their NEW book, Urban Interventions: Personal Projects in Public Places.
I am absolutely thrilled to share a volume with people like Mark Jenkins, Joshua Allen Harris, William Lamson and tons of other artists who endeavor to smack the urban landscape with the giant cartoon glove of whimsy, and I hope y’all will check it out.
Urban Interventions is 69 beans if you buy it direct, BUT, as of this posting, it’s 37% off if you buy it on Amazon!
Or you can just wait until it’s in the big bookstores and hunker down between the rows, all sprawled out taking up aisle space.
I know how you do, ’cause I do it too.