What would Tokyo look like without its adverts?
Displaying the Japanese capital stripped of its neon lights, adverts and posters is the new concept for a series of gifs entitled Tokyo No Ads, spotted by the Journal du Design.
Each of these animated images alternate between two photographs of the city, one before and one after removing the ads. The photos in black and white make the contrast even more striking.
The neutral, impersonal and almost frosty image of the supercity without its ads shows the extent to which advertising dominates the urban space.
But is this project against advertising? Not according to Nicolas Damiens, the man behind the concept. He pointed out that he actually worked in advertising (he was artistic director for a few of the Oasis adverts, for example). Today he’s a freelance graphic designer, and Tokyo No Ads is one of his personal projects.
“I’m not denouncing it”, he told us.
When you arrive in Tokyo from Paris, it’s like a slap in the face. But the adverts are part of the city’s charm.
Bill Murray in Tokyo in Lost in Translation, by Sofia Coppola (2003)
Rather than a protest, Tokyo No Ads is actually an artistic project aiming to show the city in a different light. And the Japanese capital is the perfect subject. “It’s definitely the city with the most adverts in the world”, says Nicolas Damiens. “It means the contrast stands out even more”. But his personal take on Tokyo is not his favourite version of the city. “I couldn’t say I would want Tokyo to be like that one day.”
Photographs © Nicolas Damiens