August 27, 2009

Art by the Masses, guerilla art projects

Art for the masses?
how about art BY the masses.

Never mind mass produced art by publishing houses and studios. In these projects the grassroots are encouraged to produce works for themselves.

image at left: radical


Ever seen those crappy mixed tapes in the bin at a Goodwill or Sally Ann shop? Sick of top 40 music? Well there could be gems in the pile if you are into listening to other peoples discussions and musical tastes from ages ago.

Some of those tapes could be planted there as fakes. Fakes? Yes, fakes. It's all part of a guerrilla art project started in San Diego by Pea Hicks. And if you are bored as Pea must have been you too can make a tape as per his instructions on this website.

A quote from the site sums up the project: "...creating his own slightly bizarre tapes, recording them onto cruddy old tapes, writing fake descriptions and dates on them, and dispersing them back into the thrift stores. Hopefully, people would be intrigued enough by what was scrawled on the tapes to buy them for a quarter and find out what was on them..."

Slightly bizzare, and Hicks gives an example of such a tape with such track titles as:
  • Girl In A Picture In My Wallet That I Don’t Know Very Well
  • You Suck Like An Abalone
  • Killer Typewriter From The Planet Mongo
  • In Shadows Lurk Dead Guys

Another project that Hicks did previously is in a similar vain involving an early digital voice recorder toy.
This web page shows the results of compiling random recordings from such toys left on the shelves of the toy departments of various K-Marts and other stores. Nothing fancy here, just the recordings of a mass produced toy in a store. Just goes to show that art is everywhere and everything not just what media moguls say what is art for our consumption.


As the introduction goes:

"The Chicago Tapes Project is a public art/experimental sound project in which citizens exchange mix tapes, found sounds and original recordings via publicly hidden street side stations. Any and all are encouraged to participate."

This project is a similar to the Poor Man's music above, but is more liberal in that the subject matter is more open to be whatever the tape creator chooses. And instead of music bins at the local thrift shop, this project uses open spots marked by a specified stencil:

"The tapes can be planted anywhere discreet yet public - inside newspaper boxes, planters, and tree trunks, under mailboxes, park benches and stoops, between the cracks in the walls and the pavement."

Among the resources listed on the links page is Loopers-Delight, for those interested in making music for the project or just for the hell of it.

ANOTHER CHICAGO PROJECT that is listed as a related project but has vanished is "open-loop", a mapping project of all the security cameras in Chicago.


If you like books but hate having bookshelves or boxes full of books you've read before and needlessly collecting dust, bookcrossing is for you. Especially if the local used bookshop won't take your copy because it's too worn, or only offer 3 copper pennies for it.

Bookcrossing involves labeling a book as belonging to the project and cataloged and then given away free in a manner of leaving it in a public place. Such books often have a history to them that can be looked up online as to where they have been, similar to tracking banded waterfowl, or a 5 dollar bill.


Started in New York in 2004 and wrapped up in 2008, but not before going global, the yellow arrow project is very much an auto-guided tour and scavenger hunt all rolled into one. One finds a yellow arrow and on it a code one uses to text a phone number via a cell phone. And voila! you receive a message about the place 's history or whatever the arrow placer found interesting about the place. It's somewhat of an technologically advanced form of the hobo sign much like warchalking is.

Several yellow arrow projects have been made, such as one encouraging participants to smell, hear and use other senses at marked spots of a city. A project tells where long defunct shops, clubs, meeting halls etc. have been. Another good places to skateboard and perform bike tricks. In Washington D.C. home of the D.C. hardcore music scene and the Dischord record label and it's roster of bands, a project highlights the history of punk in the area.

I imagine that along with historic information and details about a place (eg.such and such a restaurant makes a good burger or a poem related to the spot) , labour history could be put on these yellow arrows, or a red arrow project could be started.

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