John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Ever want to turn an annoying billboard into a sliced-up mess? Here's how.
Some urban artists fight against the proliferation of public advertising with paint, stickers, even industrial solvents. Those tactics don't go far enough for the French trickster known as "Farewell": He wants billboards so utterly destroyed that they look like they made several laps through an office shredder.
And he's devised the perfect tool to do so – a strip of wood studded with razor blades so that it resembles those tire-popping strips at high-security installations:
While one of these weapons could do significant damage to a billboard just by swishing it around, "Farewell" has devised a safer method (both for his skin and chances of winding up in jail). First he finds the kind of mechanical billboard that regularly scrolls to display different ads. Then he sticks the blade-board inside to wreak havoc, to the confusion or delight of people passing by.
The artist conducted this hack sometime in 2013 but released the footage this spring. Call it a step in the right direction away from his more annoying interventions, such as locking a bunch of commuters inside a Parisian subway car for the sake of art: