In the futuristic noir Blade Runner, the advertising that floats through the air on a lightsign-airship tells us of a new life awaiting in the off-world colonies, and the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure. A fluorescent coca-cola bottle drips its electronic tonic down the side of a skyscraper. Atari is still going strong. The city with its incessant rain and skating light is a riot of urban planning and marketing. Ridley Scott, the director, before turning to filmmaking had already cut his teeth in the competitive world of commercial advertising.

Already in Warsaw, there are video ad-screens on the metro and in the stations, whole buildings stand in the wings curtained off by advertising, even the handle straps in the buses have ads dangling from them. In certain parts of the world, hubcaps of vehicles now display messages; people have sold their bodies (and minds) to advertisers as 'live mobile billboards'.

It's not just Warsaw's architectural patrimony that is suffering here. When you look at the 400 metre tenemented stretch of Aleja Jerozolimskie (between the Marriot and the Novotel) and see 60% of it covered with ads (buildings whose skeletal shells were painstakingly restored after WWII), you really start wondering.

On an architectural 'spacer'' organised by the Festival for Science, our guide referred to certain structures in Centrum whose whole raison d'etre was now simply to display adverts across their towering torsos.

The following pictures show an almost panoptic view of Plac Konstitucji in Srodmiescie Poludnie one Sunday afternoon in late September 2008. Plac Konstitucji as site of the MDM (Marszalkowska Housing Project) in the early fifties is of great historical and architectural significance, not just to Warsaw but to the whole of Europe (if not the world). Buildings in this area have recently been cleaned and restored to their original states.

The east facade of Plac Konstitucji is, surprisingly, sans masque, though you can rest assured this won't be for long. The telecom providers who operate out of the arcades beneath will soon have it looking like a satsuma again.

The first yellow building nearest us is Kamienica Khonow built in 1935 by architects Maksymilian Goldberg and Hipolit Rutkowski. The one next to it at No. 58 Marszalkowska, covered, dates back to 1875. Aside that is another pre-war building. In fact, this stretch of Marszalkowska, between 56-62, contains the longest unbroken stretch of pre-war tenements of the whole street.

I can perhaps understand the rationale behind much of this advertising, that is, that the money raised from it goes towards the restoration work of many of the city's dilapidated treasures. Nevertheless, as you can see here, in this one square, where buildings have been restored they are quickly covered up. So the question remains, and it's an important one, is this restoration work nothing but a con and simply a prelude for the pernicious sub-culture of modern day capitalists?

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