Toronto's 'Info Pillars' Get Hacked

A group of "urban hacktivists" have been busy transforming Toronto's ubiquitous and ironically named "info pillars" (read: street billboards) into community platforms and art pieces, protesting their improper design and instillation.
July 24, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Earlier this month, Toronto residents may have noticed the ads in their street billboards replaced with "playful items such as entire bikes, art maps, and even chalkboard space for public contributions," writes Emma Chow. Apparently the hacktivism project is not simply an art exercise, but a protest against "the erosion and privatization of public spaces" and for the billboards' circumvention of the City's approved Vibant Streets Guidelines.

The group responsible for hacking 35 advertisement signs across Toronto, cARTographyTO, seems to have been formed in direct response to the actions of the city and advertising company Astral Media, who removed trees and bike racks "at the comapany's whim" when installing their signs.

A spokesperson for cARTographyTO stated, "These structures are billboards masquerading as sources of useful public information. When you look at the pillars, it's hard to find the maps, and this goes against the City's own public space guidelines. How could City Hall allow this to happen? Beyond mere visual pollution, these pillars are a safety hazard. And Astral's influence on our city is a public insult and embarrassment - more power has been given to those who already have the loudest voices, to the detriment of all who use these spaces."

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Published on Monday, July 23, 2012 in The Pop-Up City
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