Are you sick of ads, especially enormous billboards that seem to shout at you along a congested highway? A Los Angeles artist has an alternative plan: Turn them into smart bamboo gardens.
Sculptor Stephen Glassman has worked with bamboo in the public realm for several decades. After the Northridge earthquake hit Los Angeles in 1994, Glassman noticed that billboards remained even though freeways fell. Since then, his large bamboo installations have gone up in devastated parts of the city.
His latest project, called Urban Air, proposes to replace traditional advertising with living bamboo in metal billboard scaffolding. Each Wi-Fi-enabled Urban Air billboard will contain misters for the bamboos as well as sensors that collect and transmit local climate data such as temperature and air quality.
"My intention is to put a crack in the urban skyline so that when people are compressed, squeezed, stuck in traffic and they look up, they see an open space of fresh air," Glassman said in a video posted on the project's Kickstarter campaign page.
Glassman is working with the Los Angeles-based billboard company Summit Media and engineering firm Arup on a full-scale working prototype. The idea is that once a prototype has been created, the project team can make "kits" to easily transform billboards in other cities. (Except for my hometown. Vermont is one of the few states that bans billboards.)
Urban Air has already secured billboards in LA. The team continues to raise money through Kickstarter in hopes of launching in the new year. "We're ready to go," Glassman said in his project video. So, I'm sure, is everyone who's ever been stuck staring at soul-sucking ads in highway traffic.
Credit: Urban Air