Billboards often impose sales pitches for products like fast food, cars, movies and TV shows upon a natural background of sky, clouds, trees, hills and mountains. Calling attention to this usurpation of public space is the above artwork recently installed on the U.S.-Canada border in the state of Washington.
The artwork, called “Non-Sign II”, is by Lead Pencil Studios, a Seattle collaborative that does site-specific art and architecture installations. The frame around the empty billboard is composed of thousands of stainless steel rods that create a kind of visual static. It was commissioned by the U.S. government as part of the renovation of a border crossing station near Blaine, Washington.
This artwork also inspired us to imagine billboards in Los Angeles “liberated” from the necessity of broadcasting sales pitches to everyone using its streets and sidewalks, and re-imposing the sky element of the city’s landscape upon the visual experience of motorists and pedestrians. A sampling below: