http://m.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/05/minneapolis-begins-campaign-label-benches-signs-hydrants/1999/ Completely pointless article about a completely pointless art activity, which is actually a completely pointless marketing activity, pointlessly promoting some pointless brand, probably, or it might be something else, equally completely pointless. There is a point to this, you’ll be surprised to hear. It is that all this pointlessness represents a missed opportunity for some witty signage which might have cheered up passers-by and readers of the article, rather than leaving them to wander away muttering (wrongly as it turns out) along the lines of:’probably the council or some stupid art thing or some stupid government initiative nonsense, what a waste of my taxes’, when it is nothing of the sort. So in place of some wit we have some annoyance. A bit like visiting an art gallery in your lunch break, only to discover that you are a week early and instead of art on display there are just freshly repainted white walls and some smelly fast-food wrappers and a copy of the Sun left behind by the painters. Bad public art, or equally, bad art in public, is like litter: really obtrusive offensive litter, like top-shelf porn mags, or used nappies or a mix of vomit and takeaway container, outside a cathedral. It’s the intentionality of it that makes it so offensive. Litter is just thoughtless, as is oft said. Drunks throw up, thoughtlessly. Litter gets dropped, thoughtlessly. But this crap has been placed thoughtfully. Clever intelligent people have put in a lot of thought, a lot of money has been spent. It’s not some daft sixth form prank, or some art student diploma show thing, it is a studied, concerted waste of time, money and effort. Massive mannered monied pointless vandalism in our public realm, our shared space, our physical and mental environment. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was angry, if it was some angry protest about pollution or anarchy or the rainforests or student grants, but its just so bloody bland and pointless and soulless and mannered and prissy. It has no edge; it’s all middle. Middling, meek, mild, middle of the road. Middle middle piddle middle. And like the witterings over the tannoy on the train from the ‘customer relations management team leader’, who is endlessly pointlessly wittering about ‘station stops’ and the buffet, it seeps into our brains, like a leaking toilet perfusing a bathroom carpet with its filth. If you take any notice of it at all, it can really ruin your day. Which is why most people don’t. If we actually examined the public spaces in which we roam and perambulate and purposefully stride, we would be much more angry about all the varieties of litter that infest them. Huge adverts, garishly branded shopfronts nailed onto gorgeous buildings from the 1880s, flyposted posters, all the previously mentioned varieties of litter, and towering above all that, the ranting nagging panoply of street signage: speed limits, parking notices, pelicans and Belisha beacons, signs welcoming you, signs announcing the Creative Quarter, signs signs signs signs. And beneath them, beneath it all, we scurry, heads down, trying not to notice. Which makes it all pointless.
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