• josutherstphotography

Informing Contexts – Billboards and Bus Shelters

Throughout this module I have been considering where my work could be displayed.  I am been keen for my work to be seen by as many people as possible and have considered the use of billboards as a medium for display.

Félix González-Torres used 24 billboards (figure 1) around Manhattan in 1991 to showcase a monochrome image of an unmade double bed with rumpled sheets.  The billboards were in banal locations.  The bed had depressions of heads in the each of the pillows. He did not add words or explanation to his images.  The image of a bed is universal; everyone can relate to it, yet it is also perplexing in the method chosen to display it.

This art installation was called ‘Untitled’.  The work was a tribute to his partner, Ross Laycock, who died from AIDS. González-Torres himself died in 1996 from AIDS-related causes.  This private tribute displayed in a very public way challenged our understanding of the image and made the viewer question what the message was and why the image was there.

Figure 1: Félix González-Torres. Various views of Untitled. 1991

Figure 2: Sutherst 2017

Figure 3: Sutherst 2017

Taking inspiration from González-Torres, I decided to see what some of my work would look like as a billboard or bus shelter display.  The images would be printed as large posters and placed inside the display window.

I used images I appropriated from the internet (references below detail sources) to insert my images onto in Photoshop.

Figure 2 could be an advertisement.  the image is correctly proportioned for this display and would catch the eye of passers-by.  There is space around the subject for any text to go.

This image works really well in this viewing context.

Figure 3 is also a successful display.  Again, there is sufficient space around the image to ensure any text could be easily placed and read.  The bright colours of the subject would catch to eye of passers-by.  Again the proportions of this image work well in the confines of the display space.

The white background of the image in figure 3 make the subject stand out.  Again, I have no trouble envisioning this as a suitable context in which to display this work.

Both of images could be part of the Cindy Sherman MAC Cosmetics Campaign (figure 4).  The styling and bright colours are along the same lines and my images would fit well with her images in that series.

Figure 4: Cindy Sherman. MAC Campaign. 2011.

Figure 5: Sutherst 2017

Figure 6: Sutherst 2017

Figure 5 could be an advertisement for the Swindon Advertiser (the newspaper he is reading).  Whilst the image is on a black background, the character really stands out.  There is room around the subject to place text as needed.

Whilst I think this would work as an advertisement, I think is it not as successful as figures 2 and 3 due to the darker background and that the image s not quite the correct proportions for the space.

As a venue to display my work, this is successful.  The image is prominent and would certainly demand a second look from passers-by.

Figure 6 shows one of my images on a road side billboard.  My image is not quite proportioned correctly for the shape of the billboard.  The image would certainly be eye catching to passers-by.

I am not sure that this particular image and billboard combination works.  It is certainly not as successful as the bus shelter images.

As I move forwards with the project and try to determine the outcome of my final project. I will continue to explore outside spaces such as bus shelters for the display of my work.  i will need to be mindful in the construction and editing of these images of the dimensional requirements of the display frames.


Figure 1: González-Torres, F. From Jones, A. (2017). Day-dreaming of sleep. [online] IMAGE OBJECT TEXT. Available at: https://imageobjecttext.com/2012/02/23/day-dreaming-of-sleep/ [Accessed 23 April 2017].

Figure 4: Sherman, C. MAC Campaign. 2011. From Art8amby’s Blog. (2017). Cindy Sherman for M.A.C Fall Winter 2011 Ad Campaign Preview. [online] Available at: https://art8amby.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/cindy-sherman-for-m-a-c-fall-winter-2011-ad-campaign-preview/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2017].


Blank billboard image. Bertoni, S. Empty Spaces.  Unknown date. From Blogger.com. (2017). Blogger. [online] Available at: https://www.blogger.com/blogin.g?blogspotURL=http://susannaphotographer.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/empty-space-billboard-2.html [Accessed 23 April 2017].

Blank bus shelter image from All-free-download.com. (2017). Highway blank billboards. [online] Available at: http://all-free-download.com/free-photos/download/highway-blank-billboards-hd-picture_170537.html [Accessed 23 April 2017].


Recent Posts

See All

Informing Contexts – The Viewer

“Every viewer is going to get a different thing. That’s the thing about painting, photography, cinema.” – David Lynch REFERENCE Lynch, D. From BrainyQuote. (2017). Photography Quotes – BrainyQuote. [o

Informing Contexts – Next Steps

Having resolved this body of work, I am off in a slightly different direction as the next module begins. Picking up on comments made when I presented the naked portrait a few weeks ago, that I photogr

©2019 by Jo Sutherst Photography - Critical Research Journal. Proudly created with Wix.com