Mobile app replaces subway ads with art

Posted on September 17, 2014

A new mobile app aims to bring in "cultural richness" befitting a "great metropolis" by transforming New York subway ads into works of art.

Littered throughout almost every station is a repetition of movie, television, product, and alcohol ads, which take advantage of NY’s immense captive transit audience and turn the daily commute into one long commercial for the latest products and commercial messages.

NO AD, created by Re+Public (PublicAdCampaign + The Heavy Projects) in collaboration with The SubwayArtBlog, aims to remedy this imbalance by using the preexisting advertising infrastructure as a new digital exhibition space.

Users are encouraged to download the free iOS or Android app to their smart devices. Once the app is running, simply pointing your device at any of the 100 most widely circulating subway platform advertisements will cause the device to overlay curated digital art content, creating an augmented experience that blocks unwanted advertising.

Because the advertising is constantly changing in the subways, so to will the content users see through the app. Each week NO AD will auto update, replacing the new advertisements with original content. In an effort to keep the
user experience fresh, the company will collaborate with prominent cultural institutions to drastically alter the nature of the content offered, from street art, to photography, to music, poetry, and moving images, you can expect the NO AD app to continually provide new content.

We intend NO AD to bring a rich variety of cultural content to users and integrate itself into your daily commute. It is, however, not by chance that we do this using the preexisting advertising infrastructure. Overexposure to commercial has been linked to our behavior and psyche, with studies from the PIRC suggesting “...that advertising may be encouraging society to save less, borrow more, work harder and consume greater quantities of material goods.”

This behavior, in turn, puts an unnecessary burden on our environment and ourselves as we forgo personal experiences for material obsession. We see NO AD as a precursor to a viable physical ad blocking software that, used in conjunction with soon to be available heads up display technologies, will drastically alter our relationship to visual imagery in our shared public spaces.

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