I first read about The Bubble Project in the magazine Giant Robot and I was excited to discover Lee’s ongoing interference (Culturejamming, as Adbusters would say) with the glut of advertisements that pollute our communal spaces. Ji Lee had printed over 30,000 blank bubble stickers, and stuck them on ads in bus stops, phone booths, subways, or anywhere there was advertising; the bubbles, like empty thought balloons, invite public discourse. Lee returned later to photograph the filled-in bubbles. Talk Back collects some of the best, so far.
The comments written into the bubbles are, as might be expected, often irreverent, more often crude, but they are also erudite and funny. The authors are all anonymous, passersby who thought of things to say and had writing implements with them, but some of these people are extremely witty and probably great fun at parties.
The book is divided into chapters such as humour, art & philosophy, politics & religion. Some chapters are smarter and funnier than others – there are, for example, far more interesting bubbles in the social commentary section than in the sex & drugs section, as dick and Viagra jokes get tired fast. Some dialoguing begins to occur as someone writes one thing, and another responds, or alters the original. The bubbles play off the images and slogans, sometimes with anger, sometimes with humour. There are, over lines of CGI robots from the movie poster for I, Robot, bubbles saying “SHUT UP AND SHOP!” The Major League Baseball logo sprouts a bubble that says “They might let a nigger play, but they’ll NEVER let them in the logo!”
The book ends with a few pages of bubble stickers for your very own use and amusement, an invitation to bring bubbles to your city. There is also a website (www.thebubbleproject.com), where you can download templates to print and make bubbles yourself. The Bubble Project is one of the most creative, fun ways to interrupt what Lee calls “the corporate monologue,” and a worthy hobby to take up.