Posted by: | January 27, 2009 | 1 Comment

I get to campus today, and what’s the first thing I notice? Ubiquitous chalk graffiti covering the sidewalks, walls of buildings. I can’t seem to escape the bright colours telling me to vote for iRod. It’s like being stuck in some sort of psychedelic dream, only one that’s not going quite as planned because instead of seeing pretty splashes of colour that one is supposedly prone to experiencing in such times, I am instead bombarded by messages telling me to vote for a candidate who, had I not paid closer attention to the the message (and had I not been trying extra hard to concentrate in order to compensate for running on 4 hours of sleep), I would have confused for iPod . That extra stroke is tricky when you’re tired.

As the morning slowly matured into the afternoon, I relocated several times around campus, only to find that, like rapidly replicating E. coli, the chalk graffiti had multiplied exponentially within a matter of hours. Had I more energy, I would have been tempted to try to model the rate of change in surface area covered by chalk, hoping to see a sinusoidal curve approaching some sort of steady state at which candidates had used up the chalk stores of Vancouver. The cloudiness in my mind cleared for a brief moment in which I contemplated the meaning of the messages elegantly written onto the sidewalks and walls of buildings. My first thought was that UBC would be greatly prettified if only it had more colour. I must admit, nothing makes me happier than a tasteful colour palette complete with pinks and blues, and several building at UBC, including, but not limited to, the likes of the Buchanan tower, are quite devoid of this quality. Campus developers, take note. Colours on campus > no colours on campus. There are psychological studies that have shown that specific colours make people happier- I think this is particularly important during election time. In any case, I think this thought summed up to “the campus has been Chalkified”. Also, the explosion of colour reminded me of this:
Just imagine Buchanan Tower instead of the building in the ad. Seriously.

Momentarily distracted by this thought, my next one fell to the actual messages written on said surfaces. Mostly, I was thinking about how much messages actually said about candidates, and whether they actually convinced me to vote for people. I don’t normally succumb to orders that easily, but when they’re written in pretty colours? I don’t know… it’s sort of tempting. However, the quality of the artwork also matters- the more artistic, the better. Which means that creative fonts get bonus points, and scribbles or boring fonts like Times New Roman or Arial take you into the negative domain. Furthermore, you definitely lose points for assuming that I’m going to vote for someone based on the number of times I see their name. In fact, the more I see a name, the more annoyed I get with seeing it. There’s a delicate balance to be struck- I need to see your name in order to know you exist, and to be interested enough to look into your platform. But seeing your name too many times makes it seem like you went crazy with the chalk. Which is great if you’re playing hopscotch or drawing amazing works of art on the sidewalks. But not so much if you’re just writing “Vote _____!”. Where are the catchy slogans? Things like “Vote for Iggy, it’s no biggie” or “Vote for Tim on your whim”. Or something catchier, because I’ve never been good at poetry or catchy rhymes. In any case, I was impressed by Iggy’s ability to coordinate a chalk onslaught. I was similarly impressed by Tim’s rapid response team quickly getting on the ball to also launch a campaign chalk ad. Most interesting, however, was the person who wrote something along the lines of “The university is making money off of student loans! This must be stopped!”. I also enjoyed the chalk ads referencing one another, in perhaps the best display of debate (instead of Q&A sessions) we’ve seen so far, where candidates actually make attempts at refutation. They have a ways to go, of course, but addressing each other in something other than question format is, I feel, a step in the right direction. I feel this second thought could be summarized by “Chalk wars? I think they have potential.”

In general, I’m rather dubious of the effect of campaign posters on persuading voters of anything. I feel like their only purpose is to educate people of the existence of the candidates. I can’t say I’m particularly impressed with this year’s campaign posters (come on, guys- weren’t you inspired by Obama’s Hope poster?), and I feel that for the purposes they accomplish, chalk ads do the same thing, but in a more aesthetically pleasing manner.


1 Comment so far

  1. Green Machine on January 28, 2009 2:24 am


    So, the work of the Tim Chu and I did has been washed away in the snow…

    Damn you mother nature

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