When does advertising become public art?

“Where’s the Boundary Between Public Art and Advertising?”

Whether as process or product, public art and advertising don’t overlap completely, or totally comfortably. Advertising often aims for clarity, convincing or entertaining the audience in order to create a specific external action, whether it’s buying Doritos or shifting your loyalty toward Airbnb. (“Our job as advertisers is to entertain and to get our audience to play with us and interact with us,” Johnson says.) Public art hopes to inform its audience about an environment, to reveal context for spaces and spur internal discovery. It wants to help viewers feel smart or contemplative or proud of where they live. Professionals from both disciplines told CityLab that their own specialty, as opposed to the other, was about creating a shared experience, about participating in the physical world and pondering an idea. Both highlighted their field’s “authentic voice” and agreed that artists and agency clients alike relinquish control of a message once the public engages with a work.

CityLab, May 15, 2017

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