|R. Crumb illustration from "The Monkey Wrench Gang", Edward Abbey|
I don't know of anyone that wants more billboards spread across the landscape. If anything, they would like fewer. But what about the ones that are already there?
You could burn them up, or cut them down, as in Edward Abbey's book, "The Monkey Wrench Gang". The group did "routine neighbourhood beautification projects, burning billboards along the highway 66". But I don't recommend it.
The free speech accorded to the advertising industry is fiercely protected to the full extent of the law so they can infect you with mind parasites that cause you to want to buy, buy, buy. Or conform. Or be afraid. Or hate this or that. Skin tags are the latest villain.
Or you could become a billboard artist/activist.
Take Jennifer Bolande, whose temporary artwork transforms a series of consecutive billboards in the desert landscape near Palm Springs, CA with photos of the landscapes they are blocking.
Each photograph is unique to its position along this route and at a certain point as one drives by, perfect alignment with the horizon occurs, revealing the beauty the billboard has blocked. It's a beautification project that reminds us of the damage done by the in-your-face advertising blighting highway sides that the wilderness-loving Edward Abbey disliked so deeply.
|"Visible Distance/Second Sight" billboard art by Jennifer Bolande, image by Lance Gerber Studio|
Or you could engage in a bit of billboard hacktavism such as during the run-up to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21). Street artists, working with the group Brandalism, altered ads in 600 European billboards, taking aim at global-warming denial and the corporate forces opposing climate action.
"Following on in the guerrilla art traditions of the 20th Century and taking inspiration from Agitprop, Situationist and Street Art movements, the Brandalism project sees artists from around the world collaborate to challenge the authority and legitimacy of commercial images within public space and within our culture.
All the artwork is unauthorized and unsigned. This is not a project of self-promotion, and none of the artists names… or websites appear on the works: we believe there are already enough private interests taking ownership of our streets."
- from Brandalism website
Billboard activism - not as risky as burning or cutting them down, and possibly more impact through positive messages. I'm putting my gas can and chain saw away, and taking my art supplies out.
But I'm not turning in my honorary Monkey Wrench card.