Our highways are choked with giant billboards advertising this or that, full of mindless messages that pass through our brains as we struggle to keep our road rage in check.
But what if instead of a fluorescent McDonald’s ad, you were shown a beautiful forest scene? Or a glorious look at the Milky Way? How soothing.
That’s the idea of artist Brian Kane’s digital billboard takeover along Massachusetts Interstates 93 and 95: “to provide a moment of temporary relief and unexpected beauty during the daily grind of commuting,” the artist says in his project statement.
Suddenly, your same-old, same-old commute has been upgraded to a drive-by art gallery. (And psst, even if you’re not driving through Boston anytime soon, you can take a virtual joyride past the billboard via an embedded video, below.)
(If you’re driving on northbound on I-95 in Boston, you’ll pass one of artist Brian Kane’s “unvertising” billboards that display local landscapes rather than ads – causing the billboard itself to nearly disappear. Credit: Brian Kane)
Kane calls his installation “Healing Tool,” named after the handy Photoshop feature used to patch over not-so-pretty spots in photographs. The artist is doing the same patch job by removing the unnatural blemishes on the landscape (the billboards) by replacing them with a string of images of local scenery. The billboards themselves practically disappear during the day, fading into the trees or land around them; at night, they’re lit with images of the moon and cosmos, synced to the daily lunar cycle.
(The installations are synced to the daily lunar calendar, lighting up with images of the moon or the Milky Way on new moon nights. Credit: Brian Kane).
Says Kane: “We replace the missing background and create a magic dimensional window. A dynamic motion parallax effect occurs as the vehicle passes the location.”
(Cars whiz past the “Healing Tool” billboard on southbound I-93 in Boston, which reflects back trees lining the highway. Credit: Brian Kane)
Frequent drivers and commuters stand to benefit the most from Kane’s work. The images change hourly and daily so there’s always something new to see in this dynamic roadside gallery.
(”It appears to be replacing the artificial with the natural, but it’s really just using technology to simulate a nature replacement,” says the artist of his project. Credit: Brian Kane)
So what exactly are these billboards telling us or selling us? Nothing. And that’s the point.
“It’s a form of “unvertising” – a campaign without a message,” Kane states. “By removing the marketing message from the advertising space, we create an unexpected moment of introspection. People are allowed to interpret an image based on their own experience, and not necessarily with the singular focus of the advertiser’s intent.”
Even if you aren’t zipping through Boston soon, take a ride through the gallery in the video below:
Check out these other stories of amazing artwork displayed outside the traditional gallery: