When is a billboard ad truly innovative? When it’s not actually a billboard.
Commissioned by the U.S. federal government and eerily reminiscent of television static a strange construction of stainless steel rods is currently on public display near Vancouver at the border of the US and Canada.
The artwork – entitled 'Non-Sign II' - exists only as negative space; framed in a perfect billboard rectangle by the structure around it. The design, born out of the GSA’s Design Excellence Program (which directs the US federal government's multibillion-dollar building program) acts as both an eco-awareness message and a commentary on the ubiquitous nature of advertising
“Borrowing the effectiveness of billboards to redirect attention away from the landscape... this permanently open aperture between nations works to frame nothing more than a clear view of the changing atmospheric conditions beyond,” says Daniel Mihalyo from Lead Pencil Studio (the company behind the project).
The installation is reminiscent of a similar project from 2007, which saw the artist Cayetano Ferrer replicating the tree lined scenery from behind a billboard on the actual ad space – minus one central section.
With the humble billboard caught somewhere between the traditional ads of yesteryear and the new progressive digital marketing agenda, innovation in the realms of the humble poster campaign is a hot topic.
Numerous brands have redefined the concept over the years, with a number of notable concepts rolling out this year, including print/digital hybrids as highlighted recently by Calvin Klein. That particular billboard ad (for X jeans) managed to make the poster invisible by pushing the user to a digital destination to view what would have traditionally been visible on the poster.