Bedroom by Charlotte Moss, Holiday House NYC 2012. ERIC STRIFFLER
Sitting in Manhattan this past winter, Southampton native Jason Poremba watched a young couple from afar, as it was painfully obvious they were on their first date.
Eating dinner together, the pair barely spoke, instead engrossed in their phones and occasionally sharing an interesting post or text message with the other and laughing.
“That was how they interacted,” Mr. Poremba said. “I was fascinated with how people are obsessed with things like Instagram and Facebook. You don’t just tell someone you like their shirt now. You take a picture and post it to Instagram, so that other people can like it.”
The date inspired 37-year-old Mr. Poremba, who is an architect and pop-up street artist, to examine how people would interact with internet rituals, such as taking a “selfie,” when faced with real-world situations. Last week, Mr. Poremba took action by placing six “selfie-spot” signs around Southampton Village, instructing passersby to snap photos of themselves with a unique Southampton view and post the results online to Instagram.
The response, he said, was “unbelievable.”
“People loved the signs,” he said. “They were ‘hashtagging’ the selfie spots. People were super interested and reacting to it, almost like the sign made them stop to smell the roses, even if only for a little bit.”
Mr. Poremba first started planning the “selfie-spot” signs in January, after witnessing the infamous first date in Manhattan. Inspired, he started researching similar projects, and remembered the famous “Kodak Moments” campaign from when he was a kid growing up in the village. At the time, places like Disney World would place signs, with a camera on them, in front of iconic locations—urging tourists to stop, take a picture and make a memory.
Mr. Poremba liked the idea and started re-creating the signs, replacing the Kodak brand with “selfie-spot” and changing the camera to the Instagram logo—noting that the younger generation would automatically recognize the symbol and know what to do. At the same time, he started branding the idea by distributing small orange stickers around town, mostly in local surf shops that displayed the famous Instagram “thumbs up,” meaning the owner liked the object they affixed the sticker to.
The signs were placed at Little Plains Beach, Coopers Beach, outside Golden Pear on Main Street and DASH on Jobs Lane, Flying Point Beach, and the North Sea beach.
Over the weekend, tourists and locals alike became fascinated with the signs, and a quick search on Instagram turns up roughly a dozen results. Although the signs were removed, some by Southampton Village officials and some by others, Mr. Poremba said the experiment was a success.
This is not Mr. Poremba’s first foray into street art. Over the past two years, Mr. Poremba has placed his art in various places around the village—near the train station, along the wall at the Southampton Arts Center and outside local businesses—that he encourages people to take. Often, he will plant the pieces and post a picture to social media, saying the first one to find the art gets to keep it.
“It has become like my business card,” he said. “They are usually gone within days. Pop art is temporary by nature.”
Mr. Poremba has been a part of the local art scene his entire life, and said his goal was to reinvigorate the art culture in Southampton. Since the Parrish Art Museum has moved out of the village, he said, there is a chance to get more young people interested in art in a new way.
“It was me trying to bring excitement back to the community,” he said. “Art is alive and well, as it has always been in the Hamptons, but there has been a lapse with the old Parrish Art switching locations. I am trying to reinvigorate it with a younger spirit.”
For more information, email Jason Poremba at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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