An assortment of weird things in public spaces

I’ve been research­ing street art and relat­ed top­ics late­ly, and have come across a range of inter­est­ing things peo­ple have placed in pub­lic spaces. I thought it would be fun (and per­haps enlight­en­ing) to col­lect them here. Each entry fol­lows a sim­i­lar for­mat, list­ing what was left, by whom and with what intent, what it was made of, and what the reac­tions were.

Clear­ly, ‘play­ing’ in pub­lic spaces is not with­out risk. Reac­tions can vary wide­ly and are depen­dent on such a huge range of things that you can essen­tial­ly not pre­dict what will hap­pen. If you want to leave things with the aim of chang­ing the public’s atti­tude, you’d best embrace this unpre­dictabil­i­ty, make use of it, and not be naive about it.

Photo of Banksy piece on Essex Road, London

Banksy (2008)

World famous street artist Banksy has cre­at­ed many inter­ven­tions in pub­lic space. A recent one in Lon­don being a mur­al show­ing a girl rais­ing a flag bear­ing the logo of Tesco’s while two chil­dren look on, hands on their harts. The piece is filmed for an hour and the result shows a huge amount of peo­ple stop­ping and look­ing at it. (Which is inter­est­ing in the con­text of to the next exam­ple.)

Pho­to cred­it: Ben Bell on Flickr.

Photo of Tuymans piece in Antwerp

Luc Tuy­mans (2008)

As an exper­i­ment, crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed con­tem­po­rary painter Luc Tuy­mans paints a mur­al on the walls of a busy pedes­tri­an street in Antwerp. Hard­ly any­one (less than 10%) pays the work any atten­tion, as this video shows. What does this say about peo­ple, what does it say about con­tem­po­rary art?

Pho­to cred­it: Pkeyn on Flickr.

The ATHF Mooninite LED display

ATHF Mooni­nite (2007)

LED dis­plays show­ing a Mooni­nite, a char­ac­ter from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force ani­mat­ed show are attached to met­al sur­faces through­out 10 major cities in the USA. They are part of a gueril­la mar­ket­ing cam­paign to pro­mote an upcom­ing ATHF film. After being up for a few weeks, Boston police are alert­ed to their pres­ence and mis­tak­en for pos­si­ble bombs, launch­ing a full-on scare. The artists respon­si­ble for putting them up (Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28) are arrest­ed but lat­er released.

Pho­to cred­it: Emil­gh on Flickr.

Mario Question Block placed in Santa Ana by Psticks

Super Mario Bros. Blocks (2006)

Street artist Poster Child pub­lish­es instruc­tions for the cre­ation of blocks faced with ques­tion marks tak­en from the game Super Mario Bros. online. Inside the blocks are the tra­di­tion­al pow­er-ups from the game. His inten­tion is to com­ment on the onslaught of adver­tis­ing in pub­lic space. Many cre­ate the blocks and put them up in var­i­ous pub­lic places, some as a state­ment, oth­er for fun. One group of young women is arrest­ed for doing the same, but are ulti­mate­ly not charged.

Pho­to cred­it: Block by Psticks tak­en from Poster Child’s site.

Three officers inspecting one of the saucers

British UFOs (1967)

The RAE Rag Com­mit­tee plants six small-sized saucers at equal dis­tances on a straight line in the south of Eng­land. The saucers are made from fiber­glass resin, con­tain elec­tron­ics to make them bleep when tilt­ed at cer­tain angles and are filled with a mix­ture of flour and water boiled at high tem­per­a­ture to rep­re­sent alien life. The result­ing reac­tion is com­pa­ra­ble to the War of the Worlds scare of 1938. The inten­tion of the hoax­ers: to raise funds for char­i­ty. They were not per­se­cut­ed, although some author­i­ties were less than amused.

Descrip­tion based on an arti­cle by John Keel­ing in Fortean Times #228 from which the image is tak­en as well.

Can you think of any oth­er weird things placed in pub­lic spaces? Do let me know.

Better travelling with Jet Lag Passport

Neon sign that reads 'jet lag'

With the atten­tion giv­en to trav­el late­ly (Dopplr springs to mind, as well as my own increased flight fre­quen­cy this year) I thought I’d final­ly write up my expe­ri­ences with a jet lag pre­ven­tion tech­nique called Jet Lag Pass­port.

I was plan­ning my trip to Las Vegas ear­li­er this year when I was approached by Dai­mon Sweeney. He invit­ed me to check out this small book­let he’d writ­ten (sold on his web­site for 10.25 GBP) that described a pres­sure points and med­i­ta­tion rou­tine aimed at sync­ing your bio­log­i­cal clock to local time. Being a Fortean and mar­tial artist, I saw no rea­son not to try it. I print­ed out the PDF he’d sent me for free (in exchange for a blog post if I liked it) and stashed in my car­ry-on bag. While tak­ing off I took a look at it for the first time. The rou­tine was easy to remem­ber and takes up very lit­tle time. You repeat it for every two hours of flight.

Although it’s always hard to objec­tive­ly say whether this stuff actu­al­ly works (and to be hon­est I feel that’s beside the point) it worked for me. I had a short stay in Vegas (I arrived on Fri­day evening and left on Mon­day evening) and a long flight in com­par­i­son. I got into the rhythm of things on arrival effort­less­ly and had none of the weird sud­den attacks of fatigue so typ­i­cal of jet lag. This stuff may not be for every­one, per­haps an open mind and some expe­ri­ence with med­i­ta­tion (how­ev­er small) is a pre­req­ui­site, but I’ll be sure to give it a try the next time I take one of these long flights.

Check out the book­let at Daimon’s web­site and who knows, if you promise to blog it, he’ll let you try it for free…

A few more shots of Florence

Despite the heat and humid­i­ty this evening I got around sort­ing through a few more pho­tos tak­en in Flo­rence. Around 50 new ones have been added to the set. You can start at the first new one here.

I’d like to treat you to a nice exam­ple of serendip­i­ty. Here’s a pho­to I took of some stained glass win­dows depict­ing the agnus dei:

Stained glass

Now check out this pho­to by Rich Nur­combe… Weird.

Random brick writings

An awe­some ran­dom phe­nom­e­non in Woer­den, the Nether­lands: Just after mov­ing into his new vil­la, André van Zuilen noticed the word “dick” on the front of his house. An act of van­dal­ism by a dis­grun­tled con­struc­tion work­er or coin­ci­dence*?

Orig­i­nal arti­cle in Dutch over at AD.nl. Via Edwin.

Schuttingwoord in metselwerk

  • We all know there’s no such thing as a coin­ci­dence right?

Opgehokte raven

Geweldig nieuws uit Groot-Brit­tan­nië – de konin­klijke raven zijn opge­hokt. Onlangs las ik een mooi artikel in mijn favori­ete blad Fortean Times, waarin werd verteld hoe de zes raven van de Tow­er of Lon­don door de Yeo­man raven mas­ter wor­den ver­zorgd en bescher­md. Een oude voor­spelling zegt dat als alle raven de Tow­er ver­lat­en het Britse koninkrijk ten onder zal gaan. Nu staat de vogel­griep voor de deur, dus gaan Bran­wen, Hug­ine, Munin, Gwyl­lum, Thor and Baldrick op stok! Iets wat de raven mas­ter liev­er niet doet:

Although we don’t like hav­ing to bring the Tow­er ravens inside, we believe it is the safest thing to do for their own pro­tec­tion, giv­en the speed that the virus is mov­ing across Europe.”

Dan

Please peo­ple. Lay off the Dan Brown. I can’t com­mute with­out see­ing at least one per­son read­ing a book of his. If you’re inter­est­ed in crack­pot the­o­ries about tem­plars, Jesus and San­gre­al – just pick up Holy Blood, Holy Grail (Brown stole bor­rowed all his Da Vin­ci Code ‘rev­e­la­tions’ from that book any­way). If you’re real­ly inter­est­ed in what con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries can do to a per­son, read Foucalt’s Pen­du­lum – a much, much bet­ter way to spend your time read­ing.

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Dutch ABC spotted!

At first I was quite scep­ti­cal about the exis­tence of our (The Nether­lands’) very own Alien Big Cat, but now, both pho­tos and videos have sur­faced.

Pan­tera, a foun­da­tion ded­i­cat­ed to the defence of big cats in Europe, have made it their mis­sion to find and cap­ture the alleged puma (which they’ve named ‘Win­nie the Poohma’) roam­ing the ‘Hoge Veluwe’ alive. As opposed to Dutch police, who just want to shoot the ani­mal, because it pos­es too great a threat to the pub­lic.

Look­ing at the film and pic­tures, to my untrained eye it does appear that the ABC is feline. How­ev­er, I have my doubts about its size. The images have been tak­en at a con­sid­er­able dis­tance, and there is hard­ly any­thing to in the sur­round­ings to com­pare the cat against.

Also, some experts have spo­ken out, say­ing that the ABC can’t be a puma, because it’s the wrong col­or. Love how that works: first there is no puma, because there’s no hard evi­dence. Now there’s evi­dence, but the cat’s no puma, because the color’s wrong!

Anoth­er inter­est­ing fact is that Dutch author­i­ties are study­ing the video made by Pan­tera, to make sure they’re no fake. The same author­i­ties that have been putting expen­sive per­son­nel on the Hoge Veluwe for days, to pro­tect the pub­lic!

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Dutch Alien Big Cat

This is so cool. For a few days now, police in The Nether­lands are hunt­ing down an alleged puma on the Hooge Veluwe, a large nat­ur­al reserve.

To me, being a Fortean, this is a treat. Alien Big Cats is a phe­nom­e­non well record­ed in Fortean lit­er­a­ture where mul­ti­ple peo­ple start see­ing a large felid in or around a spe­cif­ic loca­tion. Some­times the ani­mal is nev­er found; some­times it turns out to be a dog, cat or oth­er domes­tic ani­mal. And some­times it turns out to real­ly be a wild cat.

What­ev­er it turns out to be, I’m enjoy­ing see­ing this strange phe­nom­e­na play out in the Dutch media, who have no clue, and see­ing where the mass hys­te­ria will take us.

(Also check out this British ABC roundup at the excel­lent Fortean Times.)

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