[above: put this back in your next mass-mailed business reply envelope!]
If the comments on this article are any indicator, Shopdropping is controversial to say the least. Still, whether they amuse, inspire or disturb you, it is hard to argue with the sheer gumption and creativity behind these strange, subversive and interactive urban art projects.
Free Words is a book at the heart of a creative shopdropping art project. Over 2,500 copies of the book (clearly labeled as free) have been distributed in bookstores and libraries around the world just waiting to be picked up. And the content? Free Words contains 13,000 meticulously compiled words that are free to use and in the public domain.
The Droplift Project came about as an attempt to subvert, undermine or circumvent the mainstream exclusive music industry. They create their own CDs from found sounds and sprinkle them “among the established pop hits and top 40 products” to be bought by unsuspecting customers. Who profits? Well, the buyer is exposed to new music and ideas, the seller gets to profit and the composer leaps into the living rooms of new listeners. Is it illegal? “Depends on who you ask. We know we are protected by the First Amendment and the Fair Use clause of the Copyright Act.”
Zoe Saldana has put a great deal of effort into an art project that the future owners of will never appreciate. Wait, how does that work? Well, she buys items from Walmart and carefully replicates them by hand down to the pattern, fabric and embellishments. She then swaps her handmade creations for the one she purchased, adds the original tags and ‘returns’ them to Walmart for future sale. Above on the left are images of the originals, and the photographs on the right show the returned duplicates.
The Barbie Liberation Project is a droplifting project that dates back to the doll-and-action-figure boom of the 1980s. “Taking advantage of similarities in the voice hardware of Teen Talk Barbie and the Talking Duke G.I. Joe doll, er, ‘action figure,’ they absconded with several hundred of each and performed a stereotype-change operation on the lot” before returning them to the shelves. The result? G.I. Joes planning dream weddings and Barbies yelling war cries.
Packard Jennings and his cohorts have arguably done more creative shopdropping projects than virtually any of their contemporaries. He puts his political and economic views on the line through interactive subvertising and encourages others to do the same, allowing people to print out and participate in spreading his ideas if they so choose.