Surprise Surveillance Theater was an interactive theater experience, performed live for hundreds, unbeknownst to the unwitting stars of the show. It was part of the Lost Horizon Night Market, an extraordinary, modular, participatory art party that takes place in unmarked box trucks on low-traffic back streets in New York City.
The goal was to take unwitting revelers and throw them into a narrative about a black market, requiring the target to pass secret notes, have rendezvous, wear a wire, and make a mystery delivery. All of this was watched by a live audience on more than a dozen TVs showing footage captured by strategically placed video cameras, but the scope of the experience was only revealed to the target at the very end when he or she delivered a secret package to the waiting audience.
The Spoiler Alert signs warn waiting riders of this potentially unwanted information — allowing them to avert their eyes so they may preserve their spirit of adventure — while still leaving visible the data for travelers who wish to ruin the surprise for themselves.
Make sure you read the instructions carefully next time you’re about to press the button at a crosswalk. Total Crisis Panic Button was installed all over Los Angeles by Jason Eppink. That project inspired the second two, put up by Ryan Laughlin in New Haven, CT.
Here’s the deal: There’s a company called National Public Advertising Outdoor that puts up advertisements on sides of buildings and other public places in New York and other big cities. The ads they put up are illegal. They do not have a permit. They city is not getting paid. Instead, they pay the landlords of the buildings they use. Citizens are forced to look at advertising all over NYC because this company has illegally plastered their ads all over town. For whatever reason, the city looks the other way and rarely cracks down on them.
This spring, Jordan from The Public Ad Campaign blog organized a massive grassroots retaliation against the illegal billboards. See our coverage here and here. In short, an army of artists whitewashed 120 different illegal billboards and replaced them with art. NPA Outdoor was furious and sent out teams to put their ads back up in a matter of hours. A few artists even got arrested after being caught in the act by police.
Since the takeover, NPA Outdoor has added a new notice to all of their billboard sites. As you can see in the photo above, it reads, “Coming soon to this location: a chance to win these posters and other prizes inside.” They are trying to find a loophole in their bullshit illegal business. It’s illegal for a landlord to put an advertisement on the side of his building, but it’s not illegal to put up a sign advertising products that are for sale inside. So by putting up this bullshit notice that claims you can win the posters inside the store, NPA is trying to get around the law. They’re smart to add the phrase “coming soon,” because if you go in ANY of the stores that have this notice, you’ll find that there are no posters. It’s all bullshit. I’ve personally asked people in a half-dozen stores for more information on “winning” the posters and every clerk has looked at me like I was an idiot. They had no idea what I was talking about, because there is no drawing for posters. It’s bullshit.
Recently Posterchild and Jason Eppink set out to call NPA Outdoor on their bullshit. The duo replaced NPA’s notice with one of their own.
New York artist Jason Eppink has been getting lots of awesome press for his Take a Seat project lately, including the interview on NY1 above.
Take a Seat is an ongoing series of public furniture installations aimed at increasing the availability of seating options in New York City subway stations. Perfectly functional chairs are rescued from trash piles and reassigned to stations where limited seating options leave subway patrons no choice but to stand for extended periods of time.
Take a Seat creates value simply by relocating an object to a new location. Rescued chairs – once liabilities – become assets with little to no effort.
Seating solutions installed for Take a Seat are not affixed to MTA property in any way, opening up opportunities for collaboration with subway patrons who, if they take the initiative, may continue the project by installing the chairs in other locations that could benefit from more seating options.