Do you live in New York? Do you travel or commute into the city often? If so, you’re very familiar with the subway system, and even more familiar with the advertisements that are plastered all over station walls, trains, and even turnstiles. These surfaces were formerly reserved for graffiti and street art, but have increasingly become prime real estate for whoever can afford to push their product onto the 5.5 million commuters that ride the subway each day.
Perturbed at this constant onslaught of visual sponsorship, a few New Yorkers got together to create NO AD, a free mobile app that turns subway advertisements into artwork when users look through their cellphones. NO AD is a collaboration between PublicAdCampaign, The Heavy Projects and Jowy Romano of Subway Art Blog under the umbrella of Re+Public.
Launched in 2014, the app uses augmented reality software to project art and art gifs over the most popular subway ads. Users download the app and turn their camera towards the ad to use the phone’s screen as a viewing platform while they wait for the train.
This month, NO AD rolled out with artwork from FAILE that coincides with the street artist’s retrospective that just opened at the Brooklyn Museum. NO AD’s art is curated by its creators, Jordan Seiler and Jowy Romano and includes fine artists, illustrators and journalists, such as The Barkers, Caitlin Burns, Dave Whyte, Hrag Vartanian, and James Kerr – Scorpion Dagger.
While it’s design is not without flaws (it cannot recognize an ad that has already been defaced IRL, for example), it’s creators told the New York Times that “It’s more of a proof of concept, for once we’re wearing Google Glass or other kinds of virtual reality displays.”
Thus far, the art is updated on a monthly basis and has begun to coincide with art exhibits around the city. It will begin displaying images from the International Center of Photography in mid-October, so Download the app to try it for yourself.
Images and Video courtesy of the NO AD website.