Highway Billboards = Visual & Spiritual Pollution?


Channel 10's Tali Moreno reporting just after midnight as billboards are concealed behind her.

A strange sight was broadcast live on the news in Israel on New Years’ Eve. Billboards along Tel Aviv’s central "Ayalon" highway were being covered with enormous pieces of semi-opaque black fabric. A long legal battle waged by road safety and environmental groups had finally brought down the distracting signs.

The fight went all the way to Israel's Supreme Court, where the legal basis for removing the signs was provided by a 40 year old law originally intended "to place a limit on abandoning open spaces to ugliness, so that the fields and hills will not be stained as well with objects foreign to them" according to Israeli author and former legislator S. Yizhar. Interestingly, State Prosecutors decided not to make due with the law and build a formalistic case, but based their case extensively on the "culture jamming" movement, and quoted specifically from Kalle Lasn's 1999 book Culture Jam. Suffice to say that a Supreme Court discussion revolving around concepts taken from the anti-corporate globalization movement was enough to raise a few eyebrows, including those of Ha'aretz environmental reporter Zafrir Rinat, who noted that Lasn describes advertisements as "venomous spiritual pollutants."


Israeli billboards "pollute" urban space in better days.

Over the past decade or so, billboards of every imaginable shape and form have sprung up along highways and at major intersections. While many are conventional poster-type billboards perched on tall posts, some are basically huge TV screens broadcasting commercials around the clock to a captive audience of drivers, including inside urban areas. We should probably note here that driving on Israeli roads is not exactly a calming experience, and many have accused billboards, especially electronic billboards, of making the roads even more dangerous.

Israel is not alone is dealing with the challenges that billboards present. A year ago, the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo banned billboards on the grounds that they constituted "visual pollution." Here are some pictures from the eerily de-billboarded megacity.

We here at Treehugger have covered other ways to reconceptualize billboards in the past, from energy generation and raising awareness of energy and water issues, to providing subsidized housing.

See also:: Green Prophet

Via:: Ha'aretz, Ynet (Hebrew)
Images:: http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=529862&TypeID;=1&sid;=126, http://mad.walla.co.il/archive/197222-5.jpg, http://www.grey.co.il/pics/705L.jpg

Tags: Israel