Monument and sign : the intersection of art, advertising and protest in the public sphere
Author(s)Smith, C. Adair (Christina Adair), 1970-
Intersection of art, advertising and protest in the public sphere
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
J. Mark Schuster.
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In the late 20th Century, a common strategy has developed among a small but highly visible cross section of artists. They create and enact transient events, 'interventions', in public spaces in a way that both refers to the spatial language of the site and offers a critique of its dominant values. What distinguishes their work even further is their reliance on the instruments of mass media, and their interest in redefining its capabilities: the projector, the electronic sign, and the billboard are three such instruments whose potential for communication in the city have been creatively mined in their service. By exploring the ways in which these technologies may be put to new uses within the urban domain, and doing so from an interrogative standpoint, so that values, both explicit and latent, are questioned, these artists begin a process of engagement with the viewer which works to redefine the functions of the site. The intersection of the artist, the instrument, and the public sphere act, momentarily, to challenge typical notions of public space and public discourse within it. That such strategies have been adopted by commercial interests also shifts the paradigm further, and sets forth new conditions by which typical notions of public space and social action are challenged. I have chosen three cases through which to examine this process: the artists Krzysztof Wodiczko and Jenny Holzer, and the advertising campaign of the Benetton Group. My central questions around their work are as follows: what makes up the strategy of the artists and company when they put forward an impermanent critique in a public space? What "public" is being spoken to in a work like this, taking place as it does in the civic realm? Since the controversy surrounding many of the projects by Wodiczko, Holzer, and Benetton lies in the interplay between social values and spatial territory, this study also examines the wider community and institutional interests at work in the site. It traces the policies of institutions and municipalities and their role in granting or denying permission for the work, as well as the roles of stakeholders around the site in supporting or impeding it. The sites that I will discuss are Union Square Park and Tompkins Square Park, both in New York City, Times Square and 42nd Street, New York, and Bunker Hill and Monument Square in Charlestown, MA. Two defining features of these sites are that drastic changes to the built environment often took place not long after the artists enacted their projects in them, and that there is a existing conflict among stake holding groups which is often centered around it. This research seeks to determine what role the artist played in the changes to the site and the struggles over it.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 1999.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 102-106).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.