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At first glance, the above image, which has been plastered on phone kiosks in Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx, will probably make no sense. Is that a Rorschach blot? Not really.  Is it a QR code? No, it’s not that fancy. Maybe it’s just graffiti? Nope; it’s actually legitimate art. So then, is it abstract art? Yes—kind of. Take a moment or two to look at the image again, and you’ll realize that it is actually not really that abstract at all—it’s actually a juxtaposition of some very clear, graphic images.

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The “Blotto” image, which shows two cars colliding in a martini glass, is a creation of artist John Morse, and it is actually a project by New York City’s Department of Transportation to warn New Yorkers about the perils of drunk driving. (Blotto is slang for “too drunk.”) These posters, which will be on view until June 17, have been designed by Morse to cause New Yorkers to think before drinking and driving—the image may be difficult to comprehend at first glance, but once you understand it, the meaning is powerful and sends a very clear message out to drivers in the city.

Talking about his installation, Morse said, “Sometimes you state the obvious, but other times, [you] go subtle, even a bit mysterious. ‘Blotto’ is an abstract image, but upon study, it reveals a clear indictment of drunk driving. For those who see it, the goal is they will remember it with as much clarity as ‘don’t drink and drive.’”

Blotto image via STOP-DWI New York. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) has caused at least 46 deaths and 19,000 arrests  in New York City in the last two years. Don’t drink and drive.

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