Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Improvised Urban Facade

Tsang Ka Yan ( Sally)


Location:   E Pine St and 11th Ave, Capitol Hill                                                                      

Date and Time:     18th Jan, 2010  ( Monday)  4 pm

At this rather busy street corner in Capitol Hill, an old brick building is being reused in an improvised way as another advertising space. Although the building is closed down and unoccupied inside, interestingly, its façade is fully occupied with layers of colorful posters and notices. Many of those are promotions about lounges, nightclubs, and theatre performances in the Capitol Hill area. Different parties or organizers simply repeatedly post up several rows of promotional posters on top of pre-existing layers without taking them off. Day by days, this ad-hoc urban façade is being created.

Although every action towards the use of this urban façade is so improvisational, this collaborated artwork speaks a lot about our urban landscape. To me, it particularly speaks about ‘competition’. It is actually a suggestion of the city as a ‘ dog eat dog world’. To compete for space and attention, a newer poster series just take over one another. Nobody is going to remember or care about how eye-catching and glamorous the previous poster layers were. The newer top layer simply replaced everything. If you want to be noticed, one has to be bigger, brighter and be updated more frequently.

Despite how interesting this promotional façade is, passer-bys do not really pay any special attention to the information provided. Since the whole façade is very overwhelmed with posters, pedestrians see it more as a whole piece of ad-hoc artwork rather than individual promotional posters.

Yet, interestingly, this improvised urban façade has become part of the expression of Capitol Hill identity, further enriching the playful, creative, improvisational atmosphere of this district. Not only are light posts, pipes, mailboxes became improvisational palates, as I walked a little further down the 11th Ave, I came across a coffee shop called Vita Café. As a respond to the posters façade, the café uses these rows of repeated posters as motifs for their façade design out of their own logos.

View the improvised urban facade of an abandoned building in a larger map

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