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Litter on a Stick by Stuart McMillen. Cartoon rear view of elderly women in lawn bowls whites, looking towards the horizon.Parody of Extreme close up of littered Kit Kat chocolate wrapper on a street footpath. Low angle side view of candy bar litter. It is hard to overstate the ugliness of billboards. ‘Visual pollution’ is putting it mildly.Cartoon large Kit Kat billboard behind downtown urban road illustration. Billboards have the aesthetic of litter on a stick.By comparison, other visual mediums allow a diverse range of expression. Visual art can be peaceful. It can be relaxing.It can wait to be appreciated. It can be mysterious. It can have nuance and subtlety.Cartoon young child being influenced by fast food advertising. But a subtle billboard is a wasted billboard. After all, the sole purpose of billboards is to hijack our eyes, and to imprint an idea upon us.Drawing of littered fast food in front of billboard advertising on busy city street. And so, all billboards have an undertone of hostility. It is an inherently anti-social medium.Art curator setting up a gallery exhibition. Billboards are not art. Art is different. A curator stages a gallery show to create a cohesive visitor experience.Male curator observing art opening of exhibition. They deliberately select and arrange artworks, considering dynamics and harmony. The physical arrangement of the pieces creates tasteful juxtapositions, surprise and delight. A whole greater than the sum of the parts.Rear view of cartoon man in downtown city park, showing trees and skyscraper buildings. Similarly, public artworks are designed to work in concert with a city’s spaces.Illustration of steosaurus skeleton as public artwork in city park. Public art with people standing and looking at it.Father with child on shoulders looking up to touch sculpture. We feel ownership over—and connection to—the best public art in our cities.High angle view of park with trees and large artwork.Public art defers to the neighbouring architecture, trees, and streetscape. Local context is critical.War memorial statue of Simpson and his donkey in city, with large ugly billboard sign behind it. But billboards pay no heed to their surroundings.Cartoon drawing of female soldiers marching on Anzac Day parade, with billboard behind showing breasts in a bikini. View down a city street with large colourful billboard ads on building tops. Like a book bound with sandpaper, billboards are at constant war with their neighbours.Old man war veteran with medals on chest sitting in a chair, with large billboard about erectile dysfunction behind him. They are an instrument of chaos, designed to attract attention away from the cityscape.Close up of littered Red Bull can on a downtown street. The problem with billboards stems from the nature of the medium itself. It is an unreformable medium.Low angle view of billboard Red Bull parody ad: Yellow Yak, with young men playing basketball in front of it. So why do we continue to allow billboards into our public spaces? Low angle view of billboard Red Bull parody ad: Yellow Yak, with young men playing basketball in front of it. So why do we continue to allow billboards into our public spaces?Low angle view of billboard Red Bull parody ad: Yellow Yak, with young men playing basketball in front of it. So why do we continue to allow billboards into our public spaces?

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This is the second in a series of comics titled Twenty-Five Arguments About Billboards that I will be progressively publishing during 2019 and 2020.

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Comments

Graeme Dunstan

28 March 2019

Excellent work, Stuart. Pithy summary of the problem with great graphics. Coloured! You have a good eye for billboards and good ear for slogans. The industry will surely tempt you with bigus buckus. I watched Tv with Adrian on Tuesday eve, his favourite Railway show and it was about the rail between Vienna and the port of Trieste. A stupendous engineering feat when built in 19th century. It featured shots of the architecture of towns along the way which it had prospered. For example Ljubljana, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ljubljana Impressive architecture and planning. Notable for the absence of billboards or corporate logos of any kind.

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