February 4, 2009 at 12:30 am #175392
So is this a question regarding the definition of youth…or is it raising a question about who would a grafitti wall, let alone the new progromatic elements that may be making their way into the human landscape be aimed at?February 4, 2009 at 1:41 am #175391
Yes and yes.
Actually, No and maybe.
Just making light of the idea that teenagers are some kind of foreign entity that needs careful handling lest they single handily destroy the built environment. And thought it might be a separate topic for discussion, without the destruction part maybe. Something like, “How to engage the youth of today in the decision making processes for the future of the built environment”. I think Mr. Sand may have said it better though.
My input was directed more at the definition of graffiti in the discussion. To my mind murals, graffiti and tagging are all very different forms of expression. Thinly separately by context, but different all the same. One person’s art is another person’s trash [sic]. Keith Harring’s early work a great example. He was MTA’s worst enemy than became a celebrated gallery artist.
So my reply to Claudia’s original question, I really don’t know. I grew up in a town with two concrete skate parks before they were widely installed around the US. They gave us a place to “play” and to hang out. But if you asked the nearby neighbors it was nothing but trouble. Exactly why I see new installations in out of the way areas of towns. The same is true for “designed” spaces for graffiti, kind of takes the fun out of the process for the artist. Part of the appeal is that it is illegal. But than again skateboarding used to be, and still is, illegal in certain areas. Can you design semi-rebellious spaces and activities and have them still feel authentic? Not sure…
BestFebruary 4, 2009 at 2:29 am #175390
Nicholas, do you have kids? Because I am fairly certain that my own (darling, wonderful, brilliant…) children are aliens that I have been entrusted with teaching how to be humans. 😛February 4, 2009 at 2:43 am #175389
When I was that age, we used to hang out at the Putt-Putt, or the mall, or maybe the roller skating rink. It is a sad statement of suburbia that these were our only options for socialization. And we all had to be driven to those places by our parents, or by inexperienced drivers (our friends) until we became inexperienced drivers ourselves. This could indeed lead to another topic, like the state of our country in terms of suburban sprawl and how it is affecting youth.
So, back to the topic at hand here. I don’t classify the art I posted here as murals; to me a mural is put on a wall by permission, either by the owner of the wall/building or at his request or permission by someone else. Having done research in Belfast, Northern Ireland for the last four years, I can tell you that I know a lot about murals: the place is chock full of them. To me graffiti in different, in that it is more of a rebellious act, done illegally. Tagging is, as I understand it, the signing of a name, also usually an intentionally illegal act.
That being said, however, I think that an urban art project would attract more interest from those aliens if it were labeled a graffiti project, than if it were labeled a mural project. The word “mural” puts more pressure on the artist to do something really planned and professional looking. “Graffiti” implies a more spontaneous, freer expression. Maybe it’s just me though.February 4, 2009 at 3:05 am #175388
Ok is this any better?February 4, 2009 at 3:07 am #175387
Maybe if I can’t find a “real job” after I graduate, I’ll become a guerilla artist and go around ‘improving’ bad public art. All of a sudden, I am feeling inspired!February 4, 2009 at 6:13 am #175386
its funny about this whole teens are aliens… I wouldn’t distance myself from them for a sec (let alone say I know exactly what they think) for I was “an alien” not more than 2 years ago haha.February 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm #175385
Claudia, I don’t think that anyone is saying what you have posted may be murals but the links that Ahmed provided would likely be classified as such. These wall paintings in Iraq where placed there (according to one of the news articles) by art students, under the instruction of a local art professor. So, although they are good and I would never condone them, they where planned and done by aspiring art professionals. As they where an assignment they where not spontaneous either. In the end I would say they are murals, then again I’m no expert on this subject.
As for the youth/teen/kids debate, I fall into none of those categories and furthermore, I’m not a graffiti artist. So I would argue that I, nor the majority of design professionals, inherently know and understand the needs of this societal group. If we did this conversation would not be needed, indeed the problem of graffiti would not exist or at least wouldn’t be seen as a problem. I could look back at my childhood and teenage years and make assumptions about what today’s “youth” need but those would have to be very generalized or risk shoehorning them into my own, very personal, image of youthfulness. I guess the best solution would be to ask the question of, “whether graffiti walls work or not?” directly to the end users in order to get a correct answer.February 4, 2009 at 2:48 pm #175384
To address more directly your question as to, “whether graffiti walls work or not”? I would say that I do not know and I know of no scientific or academic research on the topic. I would like focus some attention on the Venice Public Art Walls and their history and rules though.
In their history section the curator writes that, “In an effort to keep the walls here, and in an effort to work with the community to reduce illegal vandalism, the area will be governed by new rules and regulations.” So it seems that the walls have actually increased the amount of illegal vandalism in recent years (or maybe the gentrification of Venice Beach has simply lead to increased reports? Or perhaps this fact has also lead to increased quantities of graffiti portraying more anti-establishment messages. Yet another topic for discussion???). Despite these, one of the benefits of the new rules and the new program is that, “If this program proves to be successful at reducing the amount of illegal vandalism in the area, there is the possibility of getting more yards opened up in other parts of the city.” This seems to acknowledge the fact that the legal walls can serve as an outlet for graffiti artist and a realization that a few walls on the beach don’t really serve a community as large as Los Angeles. That, in itself, justifies the opening of more legal walls in my eyes.
In the end there will always be vandals, on the other hand, there will always be individuals who need to express themselves artistically on the cheap and/or in public. Some times these two will overlap either out of necessity or by the nature of the artistic expression. It has been mentioned that these walls are relatively cheap. Although this has is a relevant topic worth discussion I see little to no reason standing in the way of providing creative artists an urban canvas for use without fear of being arrested or harassed by other taggers defending their turf.February 4, 2009 at 5:07 pm #175383
Good observations and comments, Gil.
As many people have stated, the location of such a wall is likely critical to its success. I think the perfect venue for trying out temporary “graffiti” walls is in close proximity to, for example, skate parks or recreation centers that have such activities as laser tag and gaming. Does anyone think my reasoning on this makes sense? Why or why not?
Also, I wonder if maintenance of the walls might be a good idea. Someone could go around every couple of days and cover up, for example, anything that is overly violent or inflammatory. I’d like to hear your thoughts on that issue.February 4, 2009 at 8:42 pm #175382
I agree with the clustering of activity centers idea, this is how public space is activated. Especially if these are to be located in suburban or otherwise unaccessible areas by non-drivers. Ideally these would also have access to public transportation nodes.
As for the policing of the walls, it sounds like a necessary evil. Without actually requiring a permit, having “overseers” on site and a myriad of other rules, it would be too easy for the walls to simply become another territorial spot for gangs and taggers to claim.
Legal walls would likely need a solid set of rules in order to accomplish the ideal of reducing illegal vandalism graffiti.
How about mobile walls. These could be painted up somewhere, maybe near or in a skate park, then transplanted into the urban core as a legitimate art installation, then taken back to the park, retagged and moved to maybe a shopping mall interior or something. This would raise awareness of graffiti as art and give the artists a public venue and expose them to a broader audience.April 26, 2009 at 8:46 pm #175381
WOW! I love this idea. The only thing is, watching that Youtube video you see how they take down what he’s done afterwards. It kind of boggles my mind. Here someone’s gone around cleaning the city and creating a work of art at the same time what yet authorities feel the need to take it down. He hasn’t damaged the area, and as time goes on and cars drive through the tunnel it’ll get covered up and go away. He’s taken something that would generally be over looked and made it visually stimulating and interesting and only got punished for it. Why must people be punished for thinking differently? Society really strives to reach uniformity. We chastise diversity to promote conformity and thus crush creativity and individuality. Thanks for those links, definitely bookmarks!April 26, 2009 at 9:00 pm #175380
I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m younger than most other people posting in this thread. I found this looking for a listing of free walls. I moved to Oregon from Colorado recently and when I lived in Colorado I took full advantage of the free walls there. You could look at painting over a beautiful piece as disgrace or disrespect, but when you’re a graffiti artist you realize that these free walls are exactly what someone earlier said, a “community board”. It’s a place for people to come together, to learn new skills, to express themselves, and to meet new people. I’ve read in many places the argument that these walls only inspire people to deface the area around them, but that only makes sense in the thought that many graffiti artists think that the urban world be beautiful if we could freely express ourselves on every visual object in our lives. If we could see opinions everywhere we turn how amazing would that be, to be surrounded with the ideas and views of others. But after a certain point you realize that it’s no more than an idealistic view. And so I understand that it’s a generally misunderstood and disliked art form. Because of this I believe that free walls are the best middle ground to meet between those who dislike graffiti and the artists who seek an escape from their lives and a way to express themselves. I mean there’s nothing better on a shitty day to go and stand with a 6′ x 9′ canvas and just go to town. To put on headphones and just zone out, to let yourself explode over a wall. It is the most liberating feeling! I totally promote free walls.
And I agree with the general idea of the thread where there’s a difference between graffiti and vandalism, and most graffiti artists do. Those who just desire to spread a simple doodle in as many places as they can are usually refereed to as “Toys”. People who have no desire to hone a skill and create works of art. Individuals who seek merely to destroy and push peoples level of comfort rather than create and share and idea and a work of art. I’m glad to see that something like this is out here and generating this much talk.May 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm #175379
Thanks so much for posting your opinions here. I really hope at some point to work with a city and help establish an urban arts program that includes such elements as free walls, temporary or not. I am glad to hear from the source that not all graffiti artists look at these walls as bad, and that some would consider using them. I guess I would be aiming such a project at those who, as you say, wish to express themselves through this art medium, and not towards those who simply wish to deface and destroy. There is not going to be a perfect answer that solves the problem of vandalism, but if some of that creative energy can be redirected then I think it will help change peoples’ perceptions of the art form.May 7, 2009 at 2:18 pm #175378
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