Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Another Way To Say Nothing

I've really enjoyed my bumper sticker project over the last year and a half for a number of reasons -- they are fun to design, they are easy to talk about, people respond to them, and they have a concept that I think is important: saying nothing -- not telling people what to think, do, believe; and giving them something that they can interpret for themselves incongruously placed where they would expect an overt message.

Over the summer I got the idea that I could raise the volume of my silent propaganda by doing the same thing on a billboard. The thought scared me at first (and, actually, it still does) because the significant increase in expense, but when I realized the thought wouldn't go away I became resolved to the the fact that I would do it. As it turns out, I realized the vision pretty quickly, settling on a spot in Queensbury, New York, Route 9 (north facing), installed on November 11 for a four week period.
Queensbury, New York
10'5" x 22'8"
I like how it came out, and I like the juxtaposition with a liquor store and a fast food restaurant, but I am now very curious how it is received or whether it will be noticed at all. I saw it in person on the November 12. During my visit, I didn't get a sense that anyone had a thought about it -- I didn't see anyone looking at it and the one person I asked hadn't seen it yet. I get the feeling that it is one of those things that you'd have to pass several times before you give it a second thought so, in that way, I'm glad it is in an area that local people would likely drive by to work or shopping on a regular basis.
Queensbury, New York (second view)
When I committed to the space I was under the impression that at the end of the rental period the billboard would be destroyed as part of the process of putting a new one up, but, to my surprise, I found that it is printed on a woven plastic fabric that I can actually keep when it is taken down. So, instead of it being a ephemeral installation, I can actually retrieve and sell the piece. As a result, it is theoretically possible that I could get enough money from a sale to afford another. It would be wonderful if I can make this an ongoing series in different locations around the country. Hence, I've been aggressive sending out press releases with the hope that I can generate enough publicity that the piece will have value when it is taken down.
Queensbury, New York (third view)
Admittedly, there is a crazy element to renting a billboard with no words or identifiable image (though, I believe, all good art is at least a little crazy so this gives me hope that making it is the right thing to do) but since I couldn't ignore the idea, realizing the vision alone is worth the effort and expense. Still, I have hopes, and my desire is that people see it and have a response -- any response. Perhaps it is seen as a crazy, irrelevant, self-serving, esoteric, opaque, and/or just plain confusing, but even a negative response is self-generated thinking from the viewer, so I feel the process is positive even if the emotion created is negative. However, if viewers see it as I intend, as a gift of mental space, as an object that is purposefully not telling people what to do and, thereby, saying "be," I will be even happier.