DIE-IN to protest Laser Ads in “The Main” national historic site (Buy Nothing Day 2010)

Laser Ads are the latest form of invasive visual pollution staining our urban environments, and they are proliferating all over Montreal, like mushrooms after a rainfall. Not only can these laser ads be projected onto buildings, creating entirely new gigantic corporate billboards with the flick of a switch, but they are also starting to appear at ground level.

What makes laser ads disturbing is not only the visual pollution they create on public spaces (such as sidewalks), but also the fact that they project potentially harmful laser beams into the eyes of pedestrians, who are innocently passing by. Laser beams are known to be harmful to the human eye and can cause serious damage, which is why people tend to get upset when a laser pointer is shone into their eyes.

Exposure to lasers can cause flash blindness, glare, and afterimages. Flash blindness occurs whenever someone is exposed to a bright light source. While it only lasts for a few seconds, it can be extremely dangerous when someone is involved in a task which requires vision, such as when crossing the busy St. Laurent boulevard. Glare, a reduction or distortion of visibility caused by bright light, occurs when the laser is pointed directly at the eye. Afterimages can last for several days, and take the form of small spots in the vision. The overall effect is one of disorientation and confusion.

Due to the dangers of pointing lasers into human eyes, there have even been cases of offenders being arrested for shining lasers at aircraft, essentially putting human safety at risk. In fact, a site advocating the “safe” use of lasers advocates: “NEVER aim laser pointers at aircraft! It is unsafe, you may be arrested, and you may help get laser pointers banned.”

The obvious question arising is why it is “unsafe” and illegal to point lasers at aircraft hundreds of meters in the air, when it is somehow perfectly “safe” and legal to shine them into pedestrians’ eyes from only a meter or two away? Generally-speaking, shining lasers into human eyes is not a good idea, which is why warnings exist against this practice.

Given the seriousness of the situation, one must ask whether there any regulations governing these dangerous new advertising tools? Do they even adhere to standards of laser safety? What is being done to ensure public health and safety to protect people from these devices?

Lastly, why are these new laser ad devices being permitted in “The Main” national historic site, where the government of Canada gone to tremendous efforts to protect the heritage. Officials have clearly stated that “intrusive elements must be minimal” to protect the district’s historic characteristics, which “must predominate and set it apart from the area that immediately surrounds it”.

There is a lack of leadership to protect citizens from these dangerous and abusive new forms of advertising that cause both visual pollution and potential eye damage. The fact that they are permitted in a designated historic site shows a flagrant disregard for Montreal’s history and heritage. Corporations think their right to advertise their product outweighs our right to be safe and comfortable in our historic site, and so far the politicians are allowing them. To make matters even worse, the product being advertised by the laser ad, BH Jeans, appears to have sexist advertising on the front page of its website, something that is actively discouraged in Quebec due to its negative influence on women and society in general.

How did it come to be that the corporate right to zap us with their new laser advertising medium and questionable product came to supercede our right to enjoy our historic site in peace? To shed light on the issue (pardon the pun), this topic has been selected for our annual Buy Nothing Day jam!

Join Optative Theatrical Laboratories this BUY NOTHING DAY for the Laser Ad Challenge! On the busiest shopping day of the year, we plan to stage a theatrical DIE-IN to challenge these dangerous laser ads – and demand their immediate removal from the historic site! To get involved in this year’s Buy Nothing Day activity, please meet us at Bar Bifteck (3702 St. Laurent) at 7 pm on Friday November 26.

For media inquiries or more information, please contact Donovan King at optatif@gmail.com


La publicité innove de plus en plus, la dernière technologie ?
La publicité Laser.
Ce nouveau type de visionnement est un nouveau phénomène qui envahi les environnements urbain. Non seulement ce type de publicité est projeté sur des immeubles, ce qui crée d’imposant panneaux d’affichage publicitaire, mais de plus, il est possible de les apercevoir dans les rues à même la ville. Mise à part le fait que cette nouvelle forme de commercialisation nous bombarde de message pouvant être dégradant, mais en plus les lasers utilisés sont extrêmement nuisible pour nos yeux!
Participer avec Optative Theatrical Laboratories à la journée sans achat pour contrer le phénomène des publicités laser. Nous allons protester contre ses lasers dangereux et faire la demande de leur retrait immédiat! Impliquez-vous en venant à notre rencontre au Bar Bifteck (3702 St-Laurent) à 19 heures le 26 Novembre 2010.
Contact: Emily Cuellar 438-870-2100 emily.cuevi@rocketmail.com

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