How to put it delicately? Advertising sucks. And thankfully, there are mad-genius artist types in the universe who are working on dealing with this scourge. Brooklyn-based artist Steve Lambert, a senior fellow at Eyebeam, has, for the past year, been developing a Firefox plug-in that replaces Internet advertising with images of art.
The widget is based on a popular ad-blocking software, with added layers of coding that allow websurfers to see art rather than ads. Lambert, who has worked on other anti-advertising projects in the past, including Budget Gallery in California, and the Anti-Advertising Agency in NYC, came up with the idea three years ago. But he didn’t begin serious work on the project until about a year ago, when he got the hackers at Eyebeam to help write code. (Here’s the list of people who have contributed to the project.) In addition to the Eyebeam folk, other tech types have also been involved. “I’ve had groups of people get together every week or two weeks and we have pizza and beer and work on this,” explains Lambert. “There’s a guy at Bank of America who works during the day but then he comes over at night. He really has a great spirit about it.”
The plug-in is still in the beta stages, but I’ve been testing it out for several days and am happy to report that it kicks ass. (All of the screengrabs in this post are from my websurfing travails.) Seven out of ten times, the widget, formally known as Add-Art, effectively replaces all advertising with images of art. At other times, it just leaves ad spaces blank. The art, unfortunately, does not click through to an arts site. But no matter, Add-Art vastly improves the visuals on any websurfing experience. Ultimately, Lambert is seeking to create up-to-date galleries by guest curators that will be rotated in and out of selection every two weeks. “Right now, the plug-in replaces most ads and sometimes it leaves things blank,” he says. “But that’s fine with me. At least you’re not seeing ads.” Hallelujah to that.
Click on images to supersize. More before-and-after pairings after the jump.
Before: ArtForum, a site that is purportedly about art, has a news page that never shows any. Though they do show plenty of logos for commercial galleries.
After: Much better! The tacky logos on the right have been successfully blocked, while others have been replaced with a little Gustav Klimt. What a relief!
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Before: Behold…the Miami Herald‘s Visual Arts section. The arts stories on this page look about as enticing to read as a government report on tax reform. In fact, the only visual elements on the page are the SCREAMING ORANGE MARLINS ADS that make me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon.
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Before: Here we have the Old Grey Lady. And while the paper is actually a good example of a well-done interactive arts site (lots of pics, audio, video, slideshows), it’s also laden with ads. On this page, a story about auction sales by blogosphere favorite Carol Vogel has ads above and to the side that overshadow that nice Rothko with messages of: buy, buy, buy…a gas-guzzling car that will help send the planet to its ultimate demise.
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After: Okay, the tacky red banner is still tacky, but the page is made infinitely better by removing the bubble-gum pink animated ad for Xanadu on the right. Now I can read about the Sex and the City movie in peace. Whew.
Posted by C-Monster.