AddArt, replacing advertising images with art

Steve Lambert

There’s always been a tight relationship between art and advertising. In the past as well as in present times artists worked for advertising and/or with ads in their artworks. Some famous ads are part of art collections. And even if finding a direct derivation from art would be excessive, most of art directors from the past were famous artists, and advertising in its first expressions used visual art aesthetics. The connection is even more ambiguous on the web because online artists usually have web developers profiles. The ambiguity is probably related to the web double nature: is it a transaction platform or a spontaneous network? Those into social networks hate ads on the web, as it is proved by the most popular and downloaded ever Firefox extensions: ‘addblockers’. These extensions work by preventing advertising images downloads, replacing them with blank space. Steve Lambert and Evan Harper at Eyebeam OpenLab have gone a step further with their AddArt project, a browser extension which replaces advertising images on web pages with art images from a curated database. They stated on the website: “For many, replacing ads with blank space would be enough. AddArt attempts to do something more interesting than just blocking ads – it turns your browser into an art gallery”. The work is still in prototype mode, but looks promising. It will be supported by a small website providing information on the current artists and curator, along with a schedule of past and upcoming AddArt shows. Each two weeks will include from five to eight artists selected by emerging and established curators. Artists can target sites and/or default to any page on the internet with ads. Even if only a small percentage of Addblockers users downloaded AddArt extension, the number would be impressive with the result of bringing contemporary art to different types of people desktops.

Valentina Culatti