Repurposing the City: Eyebombing in Stockholm

Photographer and designer Timm Schneider likes to take his art to the streets - literally. He adds eyes to street furniture, pavements and other objects to repurpose the city for his own artistic means. Read on to discover how he brought his unique urban intervention to the streets of Stockholm, Sweden.

Urban invention as self-expression

“The moment you set foot on Swedish ground - especially when it is in Stockholm - everything looks good, and I don’t just mean the people. I mean good as in good design.

As a graphic designer I absolutely adore the Swedish people for their common love of good style. Even the cheap stuff in the supermarket looks neat. Therefore I'm a big fan of Sweden, its timeless beautiful nature and the mentality of the people.

When I felt the urge to go and visit Stockholm again I decided to do a little street art, or as I call it, ‘urban intervention’. This art form for me is all about self-expression.

Defining the art of ‘eyebombing’

This is a very different form of street art with a lot of potential when it comes to communicative power. I've done street art for some time and now, more than ever, it makes me appreciate the small things in life – and the impact they can have.

This time I chose to do a little something called ‘eyebombing’.

The project is called ‘They Live’ and here’s how it works: I regularly carry several pairs of Styrofoam eye-balls in different sizes with me. When something like a pole or a trash bin catches my eye, I stick the Styrofoam balls into position with some temporary adhesive and take a quick snapshot.

It’s quick and it’s fun to do but the best thing is to see people react to these new creatures. At first they become aware of this little thing looking up, or down, at them. Then secondly they realise how little it takes to change our environment, how something so small can change so much.

When I did these little works of art in Stockholm the reaction of the people was very different from what I imagined. They suddenly became more attentive to their surroundings, looking for magic around every corner.

Exploring the city for opportunities

Stockholm is sometimes called Venice of the North due to the fact that large parts of the city are on water. The city consists of 14 islands connected by 53 bridges so there were loads of places for me to ‘eyebomb’. The people are so polite and friendly, which made them really engage with the project.

I always like to start the exploration of a city on a high point, so when I first arrived I went to the Gondolen, a well-known viewpoint, to get an overview and plan my route.For contrast I decided to go through the Mosebacketerassen quarter to capture images of my little creatures between traditional old houses.

After walking down to the Fotograviska and back to the subway station I found several good opportunities to create more creatures: some of them were hidden, taking passers-by longer to notice, and others more obvious.

Afterwards, I continued exploring Gamla Stan, the oldest part of Stockholm, and honoured the picturesque alleys by taking very atmospheric wide angle shots. After a short stop by the ferry harbour I continued my tour to Kastellholmen and back to Norrmalm.

On the next day I did an ‘alternative tour’ to capture even more new creatures in the perfect soft lighting of a cloudy day.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable project, not just because it makes people smile. I gave the city new eyes, and made people see it through new eyes too.”

Reimagine your surroundings and share your images

Now you’ve seen Timm Schneider’s distinctive street art interventions, why not try this month’s photo challenge and capture images of the unexpected and fun things you discover in a city near you?

Take a fresh look at doorways, ticket machines and street furniture and capture face-like patterns or the amusing shapes you see in them. Or try to juxtapose the irreverent and the serious to convey a sense of humour and personality about your city. Street performers, animals and unintentionally funny signs are all good places to start.

Once you've captured your images, upload them to our Gallery