Thursday, February 18, 2010

thursday thoughts: bikes as installation art?

UPDATE--late wednesday evening:

so i had a post written out from a few days ago regarding the below pictures. but then i checked in with another fellow SF blog, mission mission, and they have also seen the cords, literally hanging around town. turns out marketing: it can haz some hazy powers over the calitexican (and apparently over other bloggers). along the same lines, now that i know this is advertising, this is NOT an endorsement, just merely an observation. kthx.

to keep with the integrity of the post, i will keep it as is, because it may be interesting (to some) my initial reactions. but my honest one was, why waste all that material on a bike like that...

(tuesday during the day)
i'm not quite sure what the intentions of this person behind this bike seem to be, but this bike just could not be functional. i also apologize for the iphone at night picture, but the best camera is the one you carry with you, right?

wrapping every spare pieces in pink corduroy. except the brakes and the bike light. seen outside of ritual coffee roasters in the mission.

Pink corduroy
Pink corduroy
Pink corduroy
Pink corduroy

i also like how the bike is completely locked up. you know, just in case someone wanted to score a pink present.

KT over at velo vogue has noticed them too.

is this the beginning of springing into action in springtime, or just arting around town? what is the purpose of them, or do they have no official stance? or do they just mark "hipsters reside here?"

does anyone know? please share in the comments.


  1. What is the purpose of art?
    To be seen, to be talked about.
    It seems to be working.

  2. agreed. communication i believe is the main purpose of art.

    seeing these bikes around town, and other objects draped in colorful cords, definitely has people talking. i am more than a little disappointed that it's for an ad campaign, BUT it's kind of... brilliant? i hesitate to use that word, but nothing else seems to come to mind.

    i suppose that they are jumping on the bike bandwagon that other companies are doing, but the way they are doing it is what i have responded to positively, even if head-scratchingly ;)

  3. ". . .they are jumping on the bike bandwagon. . ."

    Indeed, and while it has its negative side it also serves as a feedback loop to reinforce the acceptance of bicycles as an everyday tool.

    "i have responded . . . even if head-scratchingly"

    They made you take an interest and do the work to find out what it was all
    about; rather than just spewing something at you that you interpreted as noise.

    Their psychologists have been hard at work finding more effective ways to manipulate you.

  4. @kfg: it is my educational and professional training to constantly question and research. i know i carry that over to my personal life, even if i don't always consciously know i am doing so. therefore, you assessment of me is rather spot on.

    & i guess with all these marketing instances we keep seeing, i really do hope that it is seeing using a bike as a useful tool and rather than something that is seen as trendy & "green" to score points in consumer hearts for being socially conscious/aware. being the cynic i know i am, i believe it's the latter. i see it more as them using the bike as a prop, as one uses a lamp in an ikea commerical, or something to make fun of as in the kia commerical.

    and if you take this instance...they locked up a bike covered in cords, which make it completely unrideable, in front of a hipster coffee shop. well, it furthers my point in that i don't believe it is a genuine promotion of bikes being badass for transportation. (that's a good thing, by the way ;)

    i guess my answer would be to follow through using bikes or showing how they can be used in a practical sense. but i think that's just me being too practical for my own good. i'm clearly interested in different methods of delivering that communication.

    and after saying all that, i do believe that they have generated discussion, which i suppose is a jumping off point, but do people think about these things as much as i do? maybe. maybe not.

    @ade: levis. puro sf up in here.

  5. "i guess my answer would be to follow through using bikes or showing how they can be used in a practical sense"

    These are being used for a practical purpose, just not what one would think of as practical. In order for something to become useful in multiple situations it must first become ubiquitous in one. A bicycle must first become an independent symbol of something specific (alternative transportation) before it can then be used to represent something else (Levi's, health insurance...)

    "well, it furthers my point in that i don't believe it is a genuine promotion of bikes being badass for transportation."

    Levi's isn't interested in transportation so, of course, they would not be advertising for that. They are, however, very interested in maintaining the impression of being a functional symbol of fashion as well as utility. With all of the blogs out there who espouse that precise premise (this one included), it makes sense that Levi's would use this symbol to advance their own brand.

    It is indeed a brilliant marketing idea. My guess is that it is one that will have side benefits for the cycling community if only in allowing for a continued cultural normalizing of the bicycle as simply part of the landscape.

  6. ". . .i don't believe it is a genuine promotion of bikes being badass for transportation."

    Certainly not. It is obviously just a ploy to sell trendy (or an attempt to create a trend) shit to wannabe hipsters.

    Are turquoise cords really that hot an item in SF? They'd be serious dorksville around here.

    Nonetheless when a car ad shows a car driving down a twisty road an awful lot of people who see the ad will not think, "Hey, let's go buy a . . .." They'll think, "Hey, let's take a drive down the coast." There is more being promoted (or denigrated) in the ad than the product being sold; whether that is intentional or not.

  7. im an uber artsy snob and if you ask me this campaign is annoying as shit. #1. they take up rack space
    #2. it's like a bad S+M game with bikes and isntead with leather is cords. cords?!?! wtf wears cords –
    #3. they are everywhererererer
    not only in the mission. the are in the marina too **shocker...

    i guess SF doesnt need any "more" exposure of a bicycle around town, yes, there could be more but i prefer seeing people wearing the damn fabric instead of Levi's, which is know to contract artsy designer with kickass reputation (a former professor of mine did some rad shit in the 90s) to just objectify the bicycle and jump on the trend wagon.

    now if you ask me, it would be smart to have people dressed in all pink, all blue or whatever outfits, and actually "RIDE" around the city. Word of mouth in san francisco spreads on the internet faster than the 1906 fire.


  8. I will give them all parking tickets! I need everyones help in finding these RACK HOGS!

  9. The yellow one is at Levi's Plaza on the Battery Street side.

    I should have known by the location that they were a viral marketing campaign for Levi's.

    We'd all rather see people in cords riding these bikes.

  10. 'Cause if they're riding a bike they don't make that annoying "Voom, voom" noise.

  11. isn't there someone that rode butter this week with cords? i think they were at least.

  12. The one in front of Ritual has apparently been stolen. Maybe the poor guy was paid to park his bike there. Maybe it's just more advertising dollar at work, in which case I would feel bad about it at all.