In the course of my daily travels I am struck by the constant bombardment by printed advertising images. They appear almost everywhere you look: billboards, the walls of houses, bus shelters, trains and buses (inside and out), the sides of trucks, even benches. The city of Chicago has recently even started to allow advertising banners on its bridges, to the outrage of many. Of course, the vast majority of this advertising is trying to sell us products and services that we don’t want or need. I began to question why this is. I asked myself, “Why can’t we be exposed to socially useful messages instead, messages that would educate, inspire or motivate us to take positive action to address the many ills of our society?” Only the wealthy and powerful can afford to buy space on these prominent locations; the rest of us must resort to handmade protest signs and T-shirts to get our message out.
“The Billboard Project” represents my attempt to redress this imbalance. In these images I have created my own “ideal” world, one that I personally would prefer to live in and move through. Although for now this world exists only in my photographs, perhaps one day it will become a reality.
(2) Allied Social Sciences Association meetings: I attended this year’s ASSA meetings in San Diego. A highlight: sometime (and future, we hope) D&S author Marie Duggan’s talk about de- and re-industrialization in Keene, NH, with a response by Ron Baiman of the Chicago Political Economy Group. No time to report more on the meetings, so I will leave it to Paul Krugman’s blog post, Ideology and Economics (hat-tip Jim G.) and this pretty good piece from Bloomberg Businessweek (hat-tip Peter M. at the URPE list).