First of all, I have to point out the even more incredible than usual hodgepodge of etchings and prints over at Bibliodyssey right now. This post has a running start and just keeps speeding up, traveling through "Multi: clown vignettes; SarcoBosco astronomy; Böhme mystical engravings, allegorical book images; satirical Portuguese 19cent illustrations, German tulip and medieval anatomical sketches; ivory manuscript cover; Wisconsin bookart and many, many links." For those of you who haven't been over there, I hope you become as unexpectedly besotted (that's right, besotted) as I am. Those clowns kick ass.
In other news, I recently installed Adblock on my browser. Seeing sites like nytimes and pitchfork media without the relentless distraction of flashing ads bordering every piece of content was so foreign as to make the internet suddenly foreign. It reminded me of the sudden de-ad-ification of Sao Paolo, Brazil, which has left behind a residue like this:
More astonishing images by Tony De Marco can be found here. What both of these (prunings? cleansings?) point out to me is that the removal of commerce from their locales, while a vast improvement, does not lead to a more streamlined or cohesive fabric. The removal of these ads leave huge holes, scar tissue and voids behind. Meaning that advertisements are not additions or accoutrements; once they have been incorporated they are an integral part of a city or medium, and cannot be removed without a violent afterimage. Read even further, the various texts and images on a city are not something that is overlaid and can be changed or removed with impunity; it is integral and deep-rooted. Two recent works of art explore this kind of removal with different results. While Matt Siber's "untitled" project seems to imply that the text is a separate entity, Stinbrener-Dempf's "delete" makes a bright yellow point of the violence implicit in getting rid of city signifiers. I guess this is the base of my thought here-- advertising and signage is not just signifying. It is also an object that has an independent presence from the message it is trying to convey. And it is only after removal that one begins to see how powerful that secondary presence is.