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Image lifted from flickr user meg82skylark - pending artist approval.

Image lifted from flickr user meg82skylark - pending artist approval.

I have started explaining Deadvertising as the third-state of the condition of mediation. The first state is the “undespoiled” pre-advertising condition.In the second state, intact advertising mediates the environment. The third “Deadvertising” state is the negation of the content of the advertising, but the remanance of the carrier medium. So, for example – is a blank billboard an advertisement for nothing? For anything? For itself?

The blank billboard is the presencing of absence – the mediating gaze is still upon the subject, but it is an empty gaze, only in its silence does it speak. The blank billboard is an advertisement for a specifically local failure of market economics. This is why Deadvertising is interesting and meaningful. When its only goods to sell are that the location is not a place worth advertising anything, it becomes a dialog between market forces and the locality, with the “viewer” freed to interpret a these elements independently. In the absence of its message, the medium becomes platform for the discussion not only of the message’s absence, but of its negation – through replacement of a single meaning with the possibility of multiple or infinite.

Now – this brings me to Deadvertising’s cousin, Scabvertising. This is the condition in which, through attempts to negate/”remediate” a message carried on the medium, those negations become a separate commentary on the nature of the medium and the locality. In short, the second condition of graffiti being covered over in an ad-hoc way by the third condition – the body civic’s attempt to “heal” the space of the surfacially “wounding” graffiti.

Unlike Deadvertising, Scabvertising is reactionary – only defineable by its relationship to its inverse. As a weak state, it is more likely to have a provisional and unselfconscious manifestation than Deadvertising, and thus a whole different set of meanings are possible. But like Deadvertising, the aesthetic value of something absenced in a certain way can be truly striking. Its commentary on economics and appropriate use / repurposing of the surfaces of the city is fertile ground for the imagination, as well.

In closing, I would like to welcome Scabvertising to the Deadvertising family, and if you have any particularly striking pictures of painted-over graffiti or other third state conditions, please feel free to share them with me.

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