Ephemeral is an app to document the changing urban landscape with a crowdsourced visual archive of street art and advertising
Ephemeral is an app to document the changing urban landscape with a crowdsourced visual archive of street art and advertising Read more
Ephemeral is a mobile app that lets people take pictures of outdoor advertising and street art and put them on a map. It will create two dueling crowdsourced maps of these ever-changing aspects of the urban landscape. Each map entry will be based on a user photograph, so the app will create a visual, spatial archive of cityspace. The app will be free to download and use, to truly harness the power of the crowd.
The contentious relationship between street art and outdoor advertising
Outdoor advertising and street art are forms of speech that gain power from their placement in public space. Advertisers poach the style and methods of street art to give their ads a sense of currency, while street artists often post their work on billboards, claiming the highly visible spaces as their own. As speech, both are constitutionally protected, yet both push the boundaries of legality. However, regulators treat advertisers with kid gloves while enforcing strict compliance against street artists.
For many people, billboards are just “what a city looks like.” The intention of advertising is to inspire consumption, but a landscape of advertising can have unintended effects. Street artists offer a counter-narrative to the corporatized city.
The importance of engaging with and preserving visual culture
Artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey have brought attention to street art – to the power of provocative, surprising, creative expression in public space. The aim of Ephemeral is to preserve all types of transitory art in the public realm, from wheatpaste posters, to murals, to hijacked billboards, to hand-knit cozies on objects of infrastructure.
Preserving visual evidence of the changing urban landscape has both cultural and political import. Most cities require billboards to be permitted, but many billboards are illegal because cities have neither the financial nor political will to strongly enforce their laws. Advertisers, such as Coke, McDonald's, or Budweiser, hire outdoor advertising companies, such as Lamar, JC Decaux, and Clear Channel, to host their ads; they depend upon the outdoor companies to maintain legal signs and often plead ignorance of the legal status of the billboards hosting their ads. A visual archive that ties particular advertisers to particular illegal signs would be hugely helpful to activists working to decommercialize the landscape.
Ephemeral is an app is to get people engaged with the urban landscape, to open their eyes to how much outdoor advertising surrounds us and to notice the art that is fighting for space and bringing unique and unexpected moments of creativity to urban life.
Engaging people with the landscape; Engaging people with Ephemeral
Ephemeral will officially launch in Los Angeles, and we will host launch events in other cities, and countries, to engage urban denizens around the world in recording local landscapes and spreading the importance of creative, unique, un-corporatized expression in public space.
After the launch, we will throw events and contests to maintain excitement. We'll host mapping challenges, offering rewards to those who map the most entries over a weekend, who find the most illegal signs or, working with a street artist, find the most hidden pieces of art following clues along the way. Ephemeral supporters in cities around the world will help organize these events on the ground.
Ephemeral backers can choose from lots of great rewards, at all price levels. We hope you'll join us at our Launch Party in LA, with SEEPS spinning her patented mix of boogie-disco, for just a $1.
Stickers are a modus operandi of street artists, so of course we're offering stickers: $5 for a sticker of Izumi Tachiki's Ephemeral logo and $10 for a grab bag of stickers for street artists along with the Izumi's fun Ephemeral map icons. $15 buys you a sheet of custom temporary tattoos with Izumi's Ephemeral designs.
Who doesn't want to run outside and shout, "another eph'ing billboard!" or "art is eph'ing everywhere!"? Now you can silently scream them from your groceries or your chest for $25 or $40 dollars.
Pledge $100 or more and be one of the lucky seven to receive a signed print by Lord Jim, skilled and assiduous photographer of street art in Los Angeles and around the world. This will be an 11 x 14 luster print of the image below, signed on the back by Lord Jim.
Pledge $125 of more and receive a paperback copy of historian Catherine Gudis's Buyways: Billboards, Automobiles, and the American Landscape, signed by the author! This book tells the story of the rise of the outdoor advertising industry and its effect on American cityscapes, filled with incredible historical imagery. Pledge $150 or more and receive Stay Up!: Los Angeles Street Art, a hardcover beauty of a book by art historian G. Jim Daichendt and filled with Lord Jim's vibrant photography of LA street art, signed by both the author and photographer!
For $500 donors, Jim Daichendt and Lord Jim will sign copies of the limited edition version of Stay Up, that comes in a special slip and features a signed, numbered print by one of the artists featured in the book. For $750, get out in the landscape with artist Earl, as he teaches you to use his Earl Lube to get your art up, and for $1000, cruise the streets with Lisa Sedano, hearing tales of political shenanigans of lawmakers and regulators and visiting hotspots in the battle for public space between art and advertising. Don't forget to ask her to tell you about the time she sued the city to release its inventory of illegal billboards!
Thank you, Kickstarter, for your interest and support! Thank you to Hannah Estes, Izumi Tachiki, Jeff Hyland, Jim Daichendt, Stefan Kloo, Patrick Frank, Jordan Seiler, Earl Lee, Morley, and Brett Crawford for helping the project along the way.
Risks and challenges
Ephemeral creator Lisa Sedano well understands the complexities of creating a crowdmapping app. For her dissertation project leading to her Ph.D. in geography, she designed a web mapping application to crowdsource billboard locations in Los Angeles: users virtually travelled down city streets using Google Street View and tagged billboards they encountered. She brings many lessons learned from that project to this one. Ephemeral brings in the world of street art and, given its transitory nature and often small-scale expression, Google Street View is inappropriate. Therefore, Ephemeral is based on user photographs -- to add an entry to the map, a user will upload an image. Maintaining user interest in the application over time is a challenge with any crowdsourcing project. We will host fun events to maintain interest.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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