One anonymous artist wanders the streets of New York finding random pieces of trash and turning them into something useful--or just fun.

The artist added a sign to this electrical box to let people know they
could (illegally) use it as a phone charger.

By pulling a board out of this traffic barrier and reinserting it, the
artist turned it into a temporary bench for a bus stop.

Bottle holders found on abandoned bikes were attached to a trash can to collect containers for recycling.

Scraps of wood were tacked on the top of a bike rack to hold
belongings while someone unlocks a bike.

An old cutting board and some chess pieces were added to the top of a
fire hydrant (conveniently located between two poles that can act as
seats while people play).

A coat hook attached to this bus stop holds bags while someone waits
for the bus.

A newspaper rack turned into a "cold weather clothing bank" with the
addition of a sign.

A piece of chalk was hung from this subway sign for writing messages
or playing games.

The artist braided some old plastic bags and attached them to golf
balls to create a new game that could be played with traffic barriers.

Fake flowers found in the trash were added to an old traffic cone as a
decoration for the street.

An old ball hung from a street post became a classic playground game.

Discarded handlebars attached halfway up a street post added new bike parking.

This sculpture hanging from a lamppost was made of old bike parts and pieces of a wind chime.

Alphabet magnets were added to a subway sign so commuters could leave each other messages.

A set of DIY instructions, illustrated Ikea-style, was added to an old pallet to explain how to turn it into a compost bin.

A bike seat on a fire hydrant added some public seating.

An old magnetic poetry kit was added to a subway sign (here, spelling out the lyrics to "You've Got to Fight for Your Right to Party").

In front of a bricked-up window, a small library was added to the windowsill.

For the 2012 election, the artist made punching bags out of carpet padding, PVC pipe, braided plastic bags and duct tape, and painted the candidates' faces on them.

Braided plastic bags and construction fencing turned into an urban hammock.

The artist made Christmas cards that promoted giving time rather than
physical gifts, and left them around the city.

Drum sticks hung from posts became an instrument to play while walking along a fence.

2014-04-07

Co.Exist

23 Clever Urban Hacks Made From Trash On New York City Streets

Fire hydrants, parking signs, street lights, and other pieces of urban infrastructure can also make city life a little better and more whimsical, with just a few simple twists.

Over the last three years, an anonymous artist has wandered around the streets of New York finding random pieces of trash and turning them into something useful. A scrap of wood, tucked into the curve of a U-shaped bike rack, became a temporary folding chair. Bottle holders from abandoned bikes, attached to the sides of a trashcan, transformed into mini-recycling bins. An old ball tied to a signpost became a game. In total, the artist has created 23 of these interventions so far in a project called Rotten Apple.

"I was walking around and seeing people really checked out in the city on their commutes, and this was a way to activate those spaces and have them engaged a little more," the artist told Co.Exist. "I was also thinking about the amount of waste that’s everywhere in the city—I feel like it’s a free-for-all of materials. I like the idea of using trash to highlight waste and consumption issues."

Some of the ideas are playful, like a magnetic poetry set used to spell out the lyrics to "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)" on a subway sign, or a set of drumsticks attached to a fence so someone can strum the fence posts as they walk along. But most are very practical, and the artist says they're all meant to be useful—pointing out ways that we could better use space in cities, like adding extra bike racks to vertical space on street posts.

"They're provocations, addressing the latency in the urban environment," he says. "They're meant to draw attention to it, so we can be a little smarter about how we plan the day-to-day in our communities."

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2 Comments

  • Edward Allen

    I hope most of these are seen for what they are, art installments, and no one actually tries to use them. Majority of these hacks can be considered vandalism. e.g. the spikes are on top of the standpipe for a reason; they don't want anyone to sit there, not for a bicycle seat to be placed on top of them. Walk/Don't walk signs are not our personal gym. Don't mess with the hydrants. There are others but I'll end here.