Darryl Chen, 18 04 09

One week in London witnessed three amazing urban spectacles – a feast for urban geeks that was not lost on us at TTT.

Episode 1: London’s West End
To co-incide with a meeting of the G20 nations, a protest march wound its way through Piccadilly and Mayfair – strategically passing some icons of the worst of corporate culture, property bubble economics and class suppression. Would there be a brick through the Starbucks outlet? A re-wiring hoax on the massive Coca-Cola billboard? A sardonic chant at some Dubai property ads? A lashing out at guests of the Ritz Hotel…? Alas, the protesters’ cries resounded out into a nebulous haze around them. Finally arriving to a wet and flaccid reception in Hyde Park, the large group of marchers were dwarfed by their verdant setting.

Episode 2: Bank, City of London
Four horsemen of the apocalypse hyperbolised the current global recession into an allegory of greed, waste and misplaced priorities. Protesters were severely contained – one even killed – and much heavy-handed physical confrontations ensued throughout the afternoon. After a tense day, casualties on both sides took stock of the wounded, with reporters asking: Would this kind of confrontational behaviour signal anything to the summit leaders? More interesting were the previous day’s memos asking salarymen of the City not to dress like themselves.

Episode 3: Old Street, Shoreditch
A live bikini-clad model is hoisted onto a billboard in peak hour Shoreditch. Bursting forth from her doubly-exposed state, she meets onlookers with waves, smiles and blown kisses. Lynx, producers of men’s deodourized fantasies, has hit on a more potent kind of urban direct action, ironically under the radar (or editorial policy) of the nightly news services.

The best kind of urban direct-action is the one that works with our desires. Complicit with some ingrained instinct, this kind of urban spectacle subverts our better judgement and lures one and all into a world of whimsy, fantasy, annoyance, branding, product placement, and I’m going to go the supermarket to buy some Lynx.

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