I just read a great article in Saturday’s Globe & Mail, highlighting the work of the Toronto Public Space Committee against the commercialization of Toronto’s…well, public spaces. The article, by Anthony Reinhart, focuses on the total marketing strategy that has overwhelmed the TTC Subway stations. You are probably familiar with this latest in advertising trends where a single product/company buys up all the advertising rights to a particular location for a period of time. They then proceed to apply ads to every possible surface including the floors, walls, stairs, garbage bins, as well as those places usually reserved for ads such as billboards, poster hoardings, etc. The result is that the subway platform becomes one giant all-encompassing ad. Currently, Global TV and Homer Simpson has taken over Union Station. And this is not to mention the new TV monitors and their constant sell.
The Toronto Public Space Committee is leading the charge against this colonization of our city and our imaginations by what are essentially private interests. One of their more interesting projects is called “The Better Way; Redesigning the TTC: Replacing Ads With Your Imagination” an invitation to Torontonians to recreate a TTC without ads:
Artists! TTC Riders! We invite you to re-imagine the TTC without any commercial advertising. Using this new blank canvas as a starting point, you can redesign the interior or exterior of entire vehicles, or subway stations, or focus on a specific feature such as a turnstile or a fare box.
Feel free to explore different media including photo illustrations, sketches, paintings, animation and sculptures.
Deadline for submissions is: October 31st 2005
This is a great way to draw attention to a growing problem. As the ongoing Eucan MegaBin issue indicates, the City of Toronto has been seduced by advertising dollars to give up our streets to commercial clutter. As citizens we just take for granted the inevitability of self-interested visual garbage. Here is a chance to fight back.
Finally, you may be wondering why I have not provided a link to the Globe story mentioned above. Unfortunately, the article is “subscription only” and unavailable for wide public consumption. So, just as our material public space dwindles so does our virtual public space. The result is a reduction in our ability to have an open discussion about important issues.