Why Two Billboards in Massachusetts Were Made to Look Like They’re Not Even There

Brian Kane's 'Healing Tool'

Headshot of Tim Nudd

There are lots of ways to make billboards more appealing. You can turn them into art. You can make them into homes or playgrounds. You can get them to help the environment. Or you can just completely white them out.

The latest response to billboard blight? Seamlessly blending them into their surroundings.

That's what artist Brian Kane did over the past month with "Healing Tool," a project that took over two digital highway billboards in Massachusetts. Healing Tool is a Photoshop tool that allows you to clone areas of an image to patch over other areas. Kane mimics that process here by making the board space look like its surroundings—trees in the daytime, moon and starscapes at night.

"The goal is to provide a moment of temporary relief and unexpected beauty during the daily grind of commuting," Kane writes on his website. "During the day hours, a series of images from the specific location are shown on the display. We replace the missing background and create a magic dimensional window. A dynamic motion parallax effect occurs as the vehicle passes the location.

"During the evening hours, high-resolution images of the moon are shown. Synced to the daily phase, people can view the moon despite the effects of urban light pollution. An image of the Milky Way is shown on new moon night."

The changing images give drivers "something to look forward to: a curious and abstract narrative over time," says Kane, adding that the project is a form of "unvertising."

"By removing the marketing message from the advertising space, we create an unexpected moment of introspection," he says. "People are allowed to interpret an image based on their own experience, and not necessarily with the singular focus of the advertiser's intent."

The project wrapped on Sunday after a month. More images and a video below.

Via Osocio.

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.