Introduction: A Swing Set From a Billboard (Using Scrap Lumber)

In the fall of 2013 I started hanging swings from billboards. For me, the process is an act of resistance, resisting advertising and naturally, capitalism. It's also a subtle tactic for re-purposing and re-imagining the types of trash which capitalism leaves behind, inherently undermining a larger system at work. The swings serve as playful and critical interventions into public space, a détournement, "a method which reveals the wearing out and loss of importance of old cultural spheres."*

The swings are made from scrap lumber from local construction sites, fashioned into easy to make seats, painted with mistint paint, and hung from billboards in the cities I visit.

*Guy Debord - A Users Guide to Détournement

Step 1: Gather Materials

Wood: 2x6, 2x8, maybe a 2x10 if that's what you find, about 20in for each swing
Rope: cheap strong stuff (Safety first, it's probably better to overdue it)
Paint: cheap strong stuff (I go with outdoor mistints)

A drill (A drillpress if you're making a lot of them)
A saw (A tablesaw if you're making a lot of them)

Step 2: Prepare the Plank

Cut your plank down to size. Somewhere between 18 to 23 inches. If you snagged a nice long piece of wood, try to make even cuts for 2 or 3 swings if you have enough.

Drill some 1in holes at the ends. Leave about an 1.5in from each edge so your plank doesn't act up on you when you drill it. You should have one hole in each corner to feed the rope through


Step 3: Find a Good Billboard

Hopefully you know of a nice low one. We're not really trying to prove how high we can climb, but rather we're trying to call attention to how pervasive and intrusive these things are, I'm sure you can find a nice low one.

After I find one, I throw a slip knot over the top of billboard ledge or just over the small support bar and I slide that knot closed, hanging on by the rope to stretch it and make sure it's strong enough.

Step 4: Attach the Seat

Lucky for you, you've been practicing looping the rope through the plank and tying a bowline knot. Now that you're an expert, just loop the rope through your drilled plank and tie a bowline to secure the plank. Then it's just one more bowline on the other side and you have a swing!

Step 5: Further Reading

I have released a short book containing these instructions along with pictures of these swing sets and benches around Vancouver. The book is free for download here: If It's Still There When You Go Looking.