Saturday, September 27, 2008

Brisbane TSBs

Walking around Brisbane I couldn't help but notice the painted traffic signal boxes that dot the urban landscape. Located throughout the city, the decorated boxes sprinkle the streets with fantastic landscapes, waterfront views, and imaginary birds, all with the aim of modifying the dull grey generally coating urban infrastructural devices. Coordinated by Nicole Gaunt, as part of the Queensland Urban Ecology organization, the project aims to give more color to the urban landscape, supporting creative expression and local artists to give alternative visions of what urban experience can be like. Struck by such a plethora of paintings and their personal expressiveness I was led to discuss this with local artist Lawrence English, who also offered up the other perspective on the situation whereby the paintings come to deter illegal postering. A long-time posterer himself, English pointed out that one is more reluctant to poster over an existing painting than the usual dull anonymous grey that cover the signal boxes. While the city may support the creative flair of local artists, the general innocuous and rather trite content of such works seem to support English's observations, underscoring the signal boxes as sites for the meeting of an undercover confrontation.