Public Phenomena Informal Modifications of Shared Spaces

Reap Where You Did Not Sow: A Guide to Urban Foraging

Masks and Public Inflatable Projects in Puerto Rico and Chicago

PARK, by Deborah Stratman

Public Inventions and Interventions PART 2: Public Phenomena

Chicago Ravioli Project

Product Placement

11 People 16 Spaces / How To Guerilla Art

I Will Tow Your Ass

Public Phenomena Archive – Visual research into informal uses of public space

Our collection of images of block club signs, parking place savers, hand-scrawled threats, trucks built in trees, statue molesters, homeless architecture and more things people do in public plus links to other valuable collections.

Public Phenomena Archive

Public Sculpture Opinion Poll

Public Sculpture Opinion Poll – Inserting dialog into places where it has been excluded

We initiated a project to assess local reactions to the undemocratic placement of the sculpture (in the above picture) by the city of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs. We wanted to insert a small amount of democracy into the space that this sculpture now occupies. This seemed necessary given that no community input was solicited in the process of its selection and installment. 

We placed clipboards on three of the corners at the intersection of Grand and Western Avenues - on the southwest side of the intersection on a traffic island. The clipboards contained images of the sculpture  and sheets of paper with the question: "What is your opinion of this sculpture and why do you think it was placed here?"

Public Sculpture Opinion Poll

PARK - Deborah Stratman

PARK – Project by Deborah Stratman 

Deborah Stratman constructed her own mobile, parking lot attendant's booth. It travelled to various abandonned parking lots around Chicago. The booth remained out for several months. It disappeared shortly after an article was printed in a local newspaper.

Download the booklet.


LAACM launch

Intermod Series - 2: LAACM – Project by Brennan McGaffey

Intermod Series

The Intermod Series is a project consisting of interference-related observations and modifications.

Intermod - 2: L.A.A.C.M.
Intermod - 2: Low Altitude Atmospheric and Civic Modifications


There are five modifications, each functioning as micro-alterations of a city's near-atmosphere environment. All five modifications are structured to be mood enhancing determined by the use of therapeutics, noise and EMF screening, weather adjustment and  unusual optical events.

Payload Index

  • Aerial RFI - remote radio deployment
  • Cloud-seeding - active rain/snow formation
  • Aroma aerosol transfer
  • Temporary starscape placement
  • Sound conditioning - near-field noise abatement


Midwest Side Story

Midwest Side Story – Inflatable mayhem in the streets of Chicago and San Juan, PR

The musical West Side Story, written by Jerome Robbins and Stephen Sondheim in 1961, offers some interesting dialogue about the uses of public space. Rival gangs, the Jets and Sharks, are seen at the beginning of the musical in the midst of claiming their territories. One gang writes its name on a brick wall, only to be written over moments later by the other gang. A literal dance of defense follows, as members of both groups battle for their own spots on the street. 

This overture, a struggle between citizens in public space, is thwarted by the sound of a policeman's whistle. The influence of arbitrary authority forces the dancers to flee. There are no more demands for spots or places. The street is at peace, because only the police are now walking on it. 

Our work together is an exercise in expanding notions of the use of public space. Large, inflatable, plastic forms will be unleashed within various public situations and contexts. The plastic forms will be stored in or attached to a series of backpacks worn by Temporary Services (TS), Zena Sakowski, and Rob Kelly. The forms will inflate to massive proportions using electric and gas-powered leaf blowers and miniature battery-operated enclosed fans. 

Midwest Side Story

Boston Ravioli

Ravioli – 12 x 12 packets filled with assorted items then distributed in public places

Temporary Services made large, twelve-inch ravioli. The ravioli and most of the filling are not edible, but it should still be a delight to cut them open and find out what is inside. Our ravioli have see-through plastic shells that have been heat-sealed on all four sides to keep the stuffing in and the rain-water out. The shells contain a variety of ingredients contributed by the three Temporary Services members and invited guests. Some of the items are practical. Other items encourage different types of play. Some ingredients are simply intended to amuse.

The ravioli were distributed in public places. They were attached to walls with staples and double-sided tape. They were left in front of doorways and strung up on clothes lines in town squares. The ravioli are gifts to unsuspecting passersby that encounter them. The project is intended to engage a wide range of people. Anyone that sees or takes a ravio li becomes the audience for this gesture.

Boston Ravioli
Chiang Mai Ravioli
Chicago Ravioli
San Francisco Ravioli

Dave's Stories – Dave Whitman's stories about life on the streets of Chicago

Entire CD available for free download

Alexis Petroff – An exhibition at Mess Hall

We are big fans of Alexis' work ever since he contributed to Binder Archives. We have asked Alexis to fill Mess Hall with recent and older projects this fall. He agreed and will present photographs, paintings, a video installation, exquisite artist books and more.

Alexis Petroff Overview Page

It Is Always Like This – A collaboration between IC-98 and Temporary Services, Turku, Finland

IC-98 (Turku) and Temporary Services (Chicago) teamed up to build and circulate a series of 25 wooden sandwich board signs which carry phrases that advertise nothing and aren't always terribly positive. Many of the texts, written collaboratively by the two groups, point to our frustration with the monotony of city spaces and the high degree of political control that is exerted over them.

Link and booklet coming soon.

Public Phenomena – A book of selected image from our Public Phenomena Archive

This book is the result of over ten years of photographic documentation and research on the variety of modifications and inventions people make in public. From roadside memorials to makeshift barriers, people consistently alter shared common spaces to suit their needs, or let both man-made and natural aberrations run wild. The result is a new kind of public space – with creative and inspiring moments that push past the original planned design of cities.

Public Phenomena

Public Sculpture Opinion Poll Redfern – Public poll about the sculpture pictured above

This poll was conducted as our contribution to an exhibition called There Goes The Neighbourhood, which presented work dealing with gentrification. The sculpture is in the Redfern neighborhood of Sydney, Australia, which has undergone intense transformation over the past years.

Public Sculpture Opinion Poll Redfern