© DAVID CARR-SMITH 2009 : all images and text are copyrighted - please accredit text quotes - image repro must be negotiated via dave@artinst.entadsl.com

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DAVID CARR-SMITH - IMPROVISATION / DESIGN / ART / KITSCH / CHANCE

TAGGING ~ GRAFFITI ~ STREET-ART ~ KITSCH

CITIZEN'S DISPLAY THEIR INDIVIDUALISTIC  VISUAL CREATIVITY ON THE EXTERIORS OF THEIR CITY


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INDEX  
IMPROVISED-ARCH IN AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL SQUATS & COLLECTIVES

IMPROVISATION - PUBLIC & LEGAL - ALLOTMENTS  
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - WANDSWORTH / KEW BRIDGE
VERNACULAR & STYLE - BERDUN, HUESCA
TEMPORARY-ARCHITECTURE - FRANK'S CAFE / SOUTHWARK LIDO 
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS  
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES 

ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC
ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA 
GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART  

DESIGN & CHANCE

 

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CITIZENS' INSCRIPTIONAL & PICTORIAL PUBLIC INITIATIVES: 'TAGGING' TO 'GRAFFITI' TO 'STREET-ART'  ... in process

 

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INTRODUCTION  

[Written: from 02-2015]

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In this 'GRAFFITI' section I want to sort out - solely on the basis of my own naive observations of their results* - the public works of our citizen artists. Without any knowledge of their individual or social background, based only on my personal sense of their contributions to the 'art-gallery' of public space, I will simply try to categorise and assess the various types and qualities of the experiences they offer. 

 

The need in our generally socially un-coherent and often impersonal cities, to claim and assert ones possession/occupation of, or at least presence in, not only ones private places (of home and work), but also the city spaces one shares with a multitude of others, seems to be for many a deeply felt demand. Results from one vector of expression of this need - the 'visual/pictorial' - are shown below, roughly grouped to illustrate what I believe is an inevitable developmental trend in the mutual influence of creative individual and consuming society - the visible results of role change from inadequate despoiler; through tribal anarchic self-expressive; to practitioner for devotees; to member of an international artist elite; to a collectable commodity.

 

A free individual creative citizen of the collectively 'owned' exterior spaces of the city - asserting their presence via public pictorial interventions - may ascend a hierarchy of image-making. The ascent starts from 1: simple self-assertion of the signature type: "I was - and therefore I am - here", called 'tagging'. Through 2: graphically elaborated images (often based on 'signatures') usually called 'graffiti'. To 3: representations that are 'thought messages' that seek to recharge dull locations with pictorial adventures: that pictorialise text, assert 'artistic' styles, present fantasy stories, turn flat walls into 'theatrical' scenery. To 4: interventions that capitalise on the structures of their location to provoke new meanings and unexpected effects. Through 5: works that begin to reveal indications of self-conscious 'art-snobbery': smartnamed practitioners perform these new works to devotee initiates, even possible is membership of a new international artist elite who (apparently unpredictably) present to the masses huge 'public-art' works on the exteriors of world cities. Finally 6: a creeping decadence in this public arena of burgeoning creativity: an increasing mutating of graffiti into 'street-art', sought by tourists and increasingly endorsed by councils, businesses, corporates, art-commerce, and recently even private domestic patronage of famous graffiti-artists. One may even buy gallery framed spin-offs of some artists' 'typical motifs'. Thus free self expression is transmuted into 'art-styles' and the freedom/individuality/experiential impact of a once vital zone of citizens' initiatives is increasingly eroded and its surprising locational transformations/appropriations neutralised.

 

* However it is possible to share, via an image, a rather direct sense of the state of mind/intention of the person who was making it.

 

TAGS + GRAFFITI + STREET-ART: CALLE SAN AGUSTIN, ZARAGOZA (CENTER-E), SPAIN
(paste-up 3-pics 14-06-2013)   
  ... in process

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1-1:  PRIMITIVE GRAFFITI - 'TAGGING' (BY INDIVIDUALS)   ... in process

 

The least developed type of public graphic self-expression is 'tagging'.  It is a 'citizens initiative' closest to the basic impulse to reveal and assert to others of ones species "I am here: I exist in this physical place even when I am not present at this particular location of my tag". It attempts to challenge the basic limitation of physical existence - that one cannot be in more than one external location at the same time - by multiplying one's tag on any graphically accepting and generally visible-to-others surface throughout ones 'territory' [1]. However this multiplication activity has another aspect, more experientially fruitful than the passive claiming of territory in the way a dog does, by pissing its scent on every corner and stump; this second aspect embodies a potential: the pleasure of perfecting by repetition an ideogrammatic sign that is simultaneously an image and ones name - developing a physically/sensationally gratifying gesture of ones-arm-plus-spraycan-paint-mark towards a maximally visually coherent (and thus beautiful) shape-image. This latter (aesthetic) satisfaction tends to be progressive - though rarely pursued, it can drive an evolution of mere tagging into the elaborated word-images called "Graffiti" [ref section 2].

 

Note:

1: Of course the electronic networks allow individuals to spatially multiply various aspects of their presence: their texts, voice, appearance. However only a direct physical mark has the experiential quality of "I (was) am here" - the indubitable 'presence' of a unique physical action - always performing the temporary process of being made ... affecting on our environment a lasting change.

 

TAG: BOROUGH RD (E), LONDON, SE1
(pic 17-06-2015)  
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The tiny stridency of aloneness!

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TAG: BUS-STOP (2N09 KILMORIE RD) ROOF, STANSTEAD ROAD, LONDON, SE23
(pic 11-09-2015)  

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Seen from a double-decker bus: an almost unassailable position of daring!

TAGS: SHOP SHUTTER - ZOODOHOU-PIGIS, ATHENS
(pic 5-12-2014)     ... in process
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TAGS: QUAKER ST., LONDON, E1
(pic 30-01-2011)     ... in process
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TAGS: DOORS OF "FLORAL HALL" , COVENT GARDEN MARKET, LONDON, WC2
(pic Summer-1985)  
  ... in process
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TAGS, ETC: ALLEY, AMSTERDAM (CENTRE)
(pic 1986)     ... in process

TAGS: A 'DOOR OF DOORS' ENTRY, BARCELONA
(pic 3-01-2007)  
  ... in process


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TAGS: COVERED-PAVEMENT PILLARS - ZOODOHOU-PIGIS ~38, ATHENS
(pic 7-12-2014 / to W)


As one progresses down the row of pillars, the ugly tags, positionally constrained only by a habitual estimation of the space available for writing, morph into images whose pictorial/emblematic nature inevitably forces their maker to see them within their visual context - as 'presentations' 'framed' by their immediate environmental features. Thus, even at this crude initial level, influenced more by a wish to emulate, via imperfect memories, stylistic inventions of other more developed practitioners: a level of poor illustration rather than personal expression via invented aesthetic forms, there is just discernable the beginnings of the most developed level of graffiti, that which intentionally uses its location as an essential aspect of its expressive content.

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TAGS: PEDESTRIAN WALK THROUGH HOUSING AREA, LONDON, SE23
(pic 5-02-2009)


The boorish repetition of the "RAZE" ('street-name') is typical of tagging. Interestingly, here its variations seem to demonstrate two unconnected directions of development: 1:  the addition of new information to the initial(?) basic name-tag 'inscriptogram' (starting third from left); and 2: an excursion into a pictorial transformation of the tag-name ... divergent possibilities that for this person seem (so far) irreconcilable. 


The pictorialisation of the name: turning the name into an emblematic picture, involves an interest in a quite different region of experiencing than mere writing - writing (especially its word-limited form 'signing') is a practiced gestural skill ('talented' taggers apply their visual awareness and motor//muscle control to developing//enhancing its rhythmical gestural fluency). Depicting an object however (as this doubt-ridden example reveals) requires a much more externalised awareness and a very different set of skills. 

This person (seemingly stimulated by a plagiaristic memory of letter-forms in developed graffiti) makes this heroic if tiny struggle to give their tag objective status, expanding the tag's single-line writing gestures into the shaped edges of a row of surfaces, visually pushed forwards by their painted background (probably added simply for visual emphasis) and thus acquiring the beginning of a sensation of monumental mass. 

This is an astonishing promotion from the simplicity of 'writing', with its dependence on a background written-on surface that muffles its actualisation in the world of things - to a depiction of an independent massive foreground object, that affords (experientially) a magnification of the tagger's status to that of a memoralised being !

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TAGS, ETC: ALLEY, AMSTERDAM (CENTRE)
(pic 1986) 

The 'rebirth' of a mere tag as a heraldic self-titling 'graffiti' image: "LONE"!:  As if transcending the frantic mass of common tagging (hyper-stimulated via competitive 'positive feedback') it floats in the taggers' sky surmounted by its original tag - now reborn as the signature of its own apotheosis as an 'artwork', this whole ascent emphasised with a date and exclamatory star !.

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TAGS, ETC: ALLEY TO 49 BRICK LANE (W SIDE), LONDON, E1
(pic 9-02-2008)

An increasingly frantic competition for space and attention between tags and paper-based images and messages, with occasional graffiti and 'street-art' decor.
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TAGS, ETC: ALLEY TO 49 BRICK LANE (W SIDE), LONDON, E1
(pic 20-09-2015) 


91 months later ...
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TAGS, ETC: BUILDING SITE HOARDING, REDCHURCH STREET, LONDON, E2
(pic 9-02-2008) 

Self-centered tags mix with (or rather work-around) extraverted official instruction-notices, while a third type of initiative, using printed-paper images, generally responds (probably for the sake of clarity and survival) to the positions of the official notices and ignores the presence of the tags - thus seeming to assert a level of importance equal to the former.

TAGS, ETC: "BEST-BOOK-HUNTERS" SHOP+HOUSE - ZOODOHOU-PIGIS-41, ATHENS
(pic 7-12-2014 / to N) 

A dramatic gallery of tags on the upper part and graffiti-influenced street-art on the shop-facade (larded with a few tags and messages appositely placed in 'framed' spaces). The upper-centre tag (or tags?) reveal a pleasure in rhythmical patterning of linear gestures, which transcends mere name-tagging and is seemingly imminently transformable into pictorial heraldic graffiti. Its positioning and style my be stimulated by the balcony front's fluid (but conventionally symmetrical) iron-drawing; its contrast with the lumpen bureaucratic dullness of the "NR4T. FLOP." tag-list evidences a huge divergence in human social types !  

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1-2:  PRIMITIVE GRAFFITI - 'TAGGING' (ON BEHALF OF GROUPS & BELIEFS)   ... in process

 

These tags are not individual, they define and locate a group and/or publicise ones participation in a shared belief. The defining icon of a group is an 'insignia', not a signature. Like all taggers groups publically display their insignias and state/inscribe their ideologies to prove to themselves and convey to others the significance of their local presence. Just as groups display their identifying icon and ideological statements, so do some individual taggers (presumably males) display their signature tag with (or substitute for it) a phallic 'potency' icon.

 

GROUP-TAGGING: ON SHOP SHUTTER, BARCELONA
(pic 25-12-2006)


It seems as if an english group are boasting their presence and allegiances in
Barcelona - one person writing for all ? or individually sharing the same spray-can ?
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GROUP-TAGGING: BUS 281 UPSTAIRS SEAT-BACK, LONDON
(pic 1982)
 

Expressing and advertising an extraordinary degree of identification of person with penis and a bizarre degree of ignorance of the body that is its target, this savage image of selfhood is nevertheless endorsed by six boys and aimed at one girl (... one shudders !).

 

Perhaps the most basic level of 'political' graffiti. Around this time, phallic images (of various degrees of abstraction - a simplification driven by a desire to 1: achieve an iconic stereotype; 2: the satisfaction of drawing a perfectly fluent line; 3: a sufficiently rapid finish to avoid embarrassment or arrest) were a frequent graffiti subject. Unlike this unusually anatomically elaborated and sensation driven drawing with its direct report of sexual urgency, the most common type of phallus image was no more than a practiced automatic sign, presumably a mere reassurance of renewable potency [1].
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GROUP-TAGGING: BROCKWELL PARK, BRIXTON, LONDON - 'ANARCHIST'
(pic 1984)

Around this time an Anarchist group based in Brixton were vehemently politically motivated. Their insignia tag here points the way to large text statements inscribed on a far fence [see next pic]. The familiar Anarchist sign of an A in a circle is here combined with elements from the old symbols for female and male - the female cross under the circle, the male arrow diagonal from its upper-right. Does this signify sex solidarity? However, strangely, the male sign is shown bent and dripping - is this humor; a woman's derision; a man's attempt to empower the sign's abstraction?).

Encountering such presentations via this culture's familiar context of sophisticated publicity mores, exposes a startling disproportion between their style, competence, subtlety, persuasiveness, mental-state, and the huge and complex issues they purport to confront - or does their 'style' directly express and intentionally speak to feelings beyond subtlety: of a state of reduction by prevailing powers to brutal desperation?  
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GROUP-TAGGING: BROCKWELL PARK, BRIXTON, LONDON - 'ANARCHIST'
(pic 1984)

The 'Anarchist' pavement signs directed one to these large inscriptions, which convert a park workers' enclosure into an instructive hoarding. 

GROUP-TAGGING: AD: MAIL ON SUNDAY - RAILTON RD., BRIXTON, LONDON, SW2
(pic
1985)

Various additions - the main tag is by Anarchists.
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BELIEF-TAGGING: AD: TODAY - EFFRA RD., BRIXTON, LONDON, SW2 
(pic 05-1987)
  ... in process

BELIEF-TAGGING: AD: SILK CUT - COLDHARBOUR LA., BRIXTON, LONDON, SW2
(pic 1989)  ... in process
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BELIEF-TAGGING: AD: GOLDEN VIRGINIA TOBACCO - COLDHARBOUR LA. (RAIL BRIDGE - E SIDE), LOUGHBOROUGH JUNCTION, LONDON, SE24
(pic Summer 1987) 

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An anti-smoking amendment has been added to this ad. An inspired opportunism.
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FAKE-BELIEF-TAGGING: AD: SKY-TV1 - COPLAND RD, ###, LONDON, ###
(pic
04-10-2015) ... in process
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#

 

 

 

 

 

2:  ELABORATED GRAFFITI - PICTORIALISED-INSCRIPTIONS   

 

All real art is 'guerrilla' art - the endeavor of an individual or cooperative group to break open cultural boundaries. 

 

By discovering a new working venue, the publically/collectively owned exteriors of cities, which offered not only forms that stimulated an impulse to transform them, but assured direct public exposure of their works, graffitists solved the problem of energising their desire to originate; and further, in out-facing the circumscribed environmental aesthetics of the 'owner'-administrators of public places and thus constantly risking arrest during the process of working, they discovered a spur that acutely focused their working energy and attention, and thus the perceived originality and presentness of their works. 

 

One of the most ubiquitous (and unintentional) environmental contributions of these 'citizen artists' is to increase the complexity of chaotic places. Because these painters often choose a location that is less publicly exposed and whose chaos or desolation signals its low value - a dump or ruin whose lack of care and ownership seems to offer their work more security - they (usually unintentionally) make a gift to such locations, adding to them a different type of object, an event at a new qualitative level (of beauty/meaning), which however, because its 'thing' status is as arbitrary as any other dumped item, its unified place in the location's 'pattern of chaos' is assured.    

 

It seems possible that 'Graffiti' originated as an elaboration of the 'name-as-icon' aspect of tagging [Ref: Section 1-1]. Its most prevalent form consists of words or word-messages aesthetically/stylistically elaborated into pictorial forms that seek to express as visual rhythm and dynamism the gestures of writing (especially the flourishes and extravagances of 'signing') and indeed speech (from whispering to shouting ... even sometimes screaming ... infrequently anything as expressively neutral as mere 'talking'!). 

 

As usual {eg: squat-architecture], public interventions by citizens have at first the energy and confrontational presence of individualistic originative actions, they blossom on the public streets into a forest of affects. However, the works of some practitioners become recognisable and iconic, and eventually the target of 'collectors', commerce, and even leisure-flattering local councils; unfortunately this attention, and image-filtering by their new sponsors and employers, has (as is usual) encouraged image-repetition and drained the creative energy of many artists.

 

I start this selection of graffiti with the most primitive and urgent of in-public-self-advertising - almost seamlessly close to the social/territorial messaging of tagging. This function of territorial claiming and the social-mutuality of in-public personal messages are at the inception of unsponsored 'public-art'.
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GRAFFITI: ON DOOR, BARCELONA (OLD TOWN) .
(pic 3-01-2006)
  
  ... in process

From 'word' to 'picture': 

The central graffiti is almost a tag - seen separately the marks have the practiced fluency and lack of pictorial elaboration of a tag 'signature', however, though its marks are drawn sequentially their sequence in not harnessed to the linear process of reading, but controlled by a background perception of them as simultaneous parts of a single visual-image that has the direct visual power of a 'picture'.

The main image has departed from the one-dimensional perceptual habits associated with the linear code of writing (evidenced in the superposed tag names) and has defaulted back (in time) to the much more basic 'natural' and holistic summation of affective meanings - a two-dimensional visual image/'object'  

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GRAFFITI: ON METAL DOOR, BARCELONA (OLD TOWN)
(pic 3-01-2006)


T
he breakaway from linear 'writing' is taken further. The simple linearly-defined pictorial image of the last pic is here given an illusion* of three-dimensional physicality. It is even further removed from a word-tag, it has become a 'thing' - a 'monument', independent of its marks.

[* Depicting 3Dness by use of devices such as shadows and reflections (remainders from the previous culture's illustrational tool-box - derived from Renaissance visual researches) is endemic to graffiti, which in terms of visual depiction is in general quite
traditional.]

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GRAFFITI: STOCKWELL ESTATE, AYTOUN RD., LONDON, SW9
(pic 27-08-2010)
    ... in process

Stockwell Estate's ball-courts (presumably ignored by sportists) have become a public-painters' gallery: the walls for graffiti, the floor for tags.
The two modes of (alas mainly male) competitive public performance: art and sport, the first primarily mental the latter primarily physical, always in a silent struggle of commitment, are here poignantly #contrasted//merged#.  common to both sport and graffiti - the energy, dynamism and inventiveness of individual practitioners are expressed within collective behavioral and stylistic rules. The oppressed cousin of the disciplinable//'containable' and profitable yet pathetically tribally atavistic spectacle
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GRAFFITI: STOCKWELL ESTATE, AYTOUN RD., LONDON, SW9
(pic 27-08-2010)
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GRAFFITI: STOCKWELL ESTATE, AYTOUN RD., LONDON, SW9
(pic 27-08-2010)


Even the most pictorial graffiti seem to use as a vehicle of visual power an analogue of the rhythms of linear writing and sequential words.
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GRAFFITI: STOCKWELL ESTATE, AYTOUN RD., LONDON, SW9
(pic 27-08-2010)
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GRAFFITI: STOCKWELL ESTATE, AYTOUN RD., LONDON, SW9
(pic 27-08-2010)
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GRAFFITI: STOCKWELL ESTATE, AYTOUN RD., LONDON, SW9
(pic 27-08-2010)
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GRAFFITI: STOCKWELL ESTATE, AYTOUN RD., LONDON, SW9
(pic 27-08-2010)
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GRAFFITI: STOCKWELL ESTATE, AYTOUN RD., LONDON, SW9
(pic 27-08-2010)
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3:  LOCATIONAL ELABORATION VIA PICTORIAL TRANSFORMATION    ... in process

 

Prior to consulting the graffitists as to their intentions, the examples in this category (and indeed, in some respects the category itself) are based on my subjective judgments. 

 

GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION: RAILWAY BRIDGE NW WALL, LADYWELL STATION, LONDON
(pic 2002-02-13)
  


This example simply illustrates the simplest case: a nondescript and confused landscape is visually focused by the small coloured graffiti in the foreground


In itself the graffiti is a visually striking and (at first) un-interpretable sign - in a landscape of familiar objects, such a feature attracts attention, however the graffitist - facing the wall and seeking the gaze of passing train passengers - was presumably quite unaware of its larger impact.

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GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION: VIEW FROM TRAIN PLUS GRAFFITI ON RAILWAY VIADUCT WALL, JUST SOUTH OF LONDON BRIDGE STATION, LONDON
(pic 25-04-1998
)  


A
magnificent addition of an alternative mental and alive rhythm to the mechanical repetitions of the moving view. Contrapuntally accented by the skimming reflections from the train interior

It seems possible - such is this graffitist's practiced skill and visual-rhythmical awareness - that s/he was influenced in choice of forms by an awareness of the location's rigid rhythmical repetitions.
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GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION: ON DOOR, BARCELONA (OLD TOWN)
(pic 3
1-12-2006)    ... in process
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GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION: SPOOF DOOR, AMERSHAM RD., LONDON, SE14
(pic
23-03-2014)    ... in process
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GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION:  ROA! - INDUSTRIAL-YARD GATE, BUXTON ST., HACKNEY, LONDON, E1
(pic 12-03-2012 - photo by the artist ROA!)


A magnificent and shocking image of an almost completely flayed pig that blockades a factory entrance in a small road off Brick Lane. It fills the space of the gate as if crammed into a tank (like a preserved specimen in an anatomy museum) and is strung by its legs to the upper fringe of spikes - the gate's only feature that remains in the 'real world' outside its painted volume. Recessed from the street the image can be unnoticed or a sudden emotionally disruptive encounter.
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POST-ROA! - INDUSTRIAL-YARD GATE, BUXTON ST., HACKNEY, LONDON, E1
(pic 22-10-2013)

When I went to photograph it, about 18 months after ROA!'s photo [previous image], his extraordinary work had been overpainted with this modestly striking, but bland and commonplace image. One whose energy consists, not in an emotionally charged subject and the shock of an anomalous space, but in a relaxed enjoyment of moderate graphic-design skills serving a moderately successful formal cliché: a flat symmetrical pattern centrally focusing a 3D-rendered face. The difference is between the shock of original art and reassuringly illustrational decor. Graffiti works are frequently overpainted by other ambitious graffitists, however I wonder if this replacement was commissioned because the pig was too indigestible for the guardians of moderate enjoyment. 
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GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION:  BEN EINE - RIVINGTON ST, HACKNEY, LONDON, EC2
(pic 30-01-2014)

As one enters, from Shoreditch High Street, this (at night) slightly sinister dark street, the most visible object (lit by the rail bridge lights and facing a night club entry) is this huge word: "SCAR". However, on approach it reveals another letter, hidden by a strange change of angle in the 19thC bridge wall, and the word transmutes to "SCARY"

The sophistication of this person's works suggests he is aware of such meaning-affecting potentials of locations.

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GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION:  BEN EINE - RIVINGTON ST, HACKNEY, LONDON, EC2
(pic 04-06-2015)

 

GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION:  BEN EINE - RIVINGTON ST, HACKNEY, LONDON, EC2
(pic 30-01-2014)
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GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION:  BEN EINE - RIVINGTON ST, HACKNEY, LONDON, EC2
(pic 04-06-2015)
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GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION: HANBURY STREET (W-END), LONDON, E1
(pic 04-07-2013) 


A vision of a ferocious struggle breaks through a wall, as if from another type of place behind the familiar surface of the street. A couple walk past grinning - no more aware of this sub-world of terrifying animalistic barbarism than of the uncontrollable space of dreams immediately beneath their layer of habitual familiar consciousness. The whole wall of this Indian restaurant's rear-end is redhot and spattered with debris of the fight; the door it surrounds has become an entry to an underworld. The restaurant's front-end (facing Brick Lane) is a kitsch cool pretence of 18C classical chic - an absolute contrast with its furiously raging side-street back-side! 


It is hardly surprising that, in its efforts to attract decent bourgeois tourists, it has covered this marvellously theatrical and shock-inducing image with a placid illustration [ref next pic].
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GRAFFITI PLUS LOCATION: HANBURY STREET (W-END), LONDON, E1
(pic 26-10-2013)  


The extraordinary cat-fight has been replaced by this insipid, mechanically adept, 'kitsch-clever' illustration.

 

 

 

4:  'STREET-ART'    ... in process 

 

'Graffiti' has increasingly grown a branch where competitive self-assertion seems diminished and subject matter has escaped from its origin in word messages via an emphasis on its pictorial aspect (even relegating its word origin to a signature (a tag!) in the corner of a pictorial 'art-work').  Thus Graffiti has transmuted itself from 'street-message' to 'street-art'. This transformation has encouraged a new type of 'artist' into public performance; has sadly begun to reduce its vital impact, and even assign the control of its 'messages' and their affectiveness to commissioning/sponsoring bodies (even Councils) and individuals (even middle-class house owners). 

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'STREET-ART': METAL SHUTTER, BARCELONA (OLD TOWN)
(pic 3-01-2006)

An obscurely motivated image !: 

In simplicity and sole use of lines it resembles a tag, however it is drawn so deliberately (without 'signature flourish'), so carefully utilising and dividing the whole area of its 'paper', showing-off an awareness of composing in relation with the boundary of its mount, it could be classed as 'graffiti'; however, as its subject is so unidentifiable and so untranslatable as a verbal-image, it seems it must be a most minimal form of 'street-art'.

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GRAFFITI: ART STUDIOS ENTRY, STOUR RD (E), LONDON, E3
(pic 25-04-2014)
    ... in process

Disconcertingly stacked eyes staring down the driveway at the street 
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'STREET-ART' : RAILWAY VIADUCT WALL, ATLANTIC ROAD, LONDON, SW9 
(pic 1984)


A pictorial image that apparently has no 'meaning' except the direct affect of an individual's emotional expression. A strong event contributed to the street.  

..

 

'STREET-ART': RAILWAY VIADUCT WALL, GRIMSBY STREET, LONDON, E2
(pic 22-11-2006)


A 'spook' - unpleasantly 'alive', or rather psychoactive, because the shape, though painted with a precision that requires definite intention, is indeterminate. One supposes it's a human figure (ready to waylay me at a murky corner of this somewhat lonely road), yet in closer view each of its features fails to definitely confirm this. The ensuing mental struggle to identify what it denotes (since our evolution insists we discover what confronts us) ensures that it seems to present something of the uncontrollability of an independently motivated entity. As if to confirm this objectivity, this entity appears to sprout from root-like dribbles whose form could only be determined by an agency completely separate from intention: gravitation. 

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'STREET-ART': HOARDING, 113 KIRKDALE, LONDON, SE26
(pic 22-09-2013)  
... in process

 

A commissioned work by Joyce Treasure Co UK.

'STREET-ART': HOARDING, 113 KIRKDALE, LONDON, SE26
(pic 22-09-2013)
  
  ... in process

 

A commissioned work by Joyce Treasure Co UK.

 

'STREET-ART': '3-STREET MURAL'  SE CORNER - CURTAIN RD & SCRUTTON ST, LONDON, EC2
(
paste-up 3-pics 25-09-2013)  
  ... in process

C
ommissioned ?
.

'STREET-ART': '3-STREET MURAL'  NE CORNER - CURTAIN RD & CHRISTIANA ST, LONDON, EC2
(
paste-up 2-pics 25-09-2013)
  ... in process
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'STREET-ART': '3-STREET MURAL'  N FACADE - CHRISTIANA ST, LONDON, EC2
(
pic 25-09-2013)
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5:  GRAFFITI - PATRONAGE & DECADENCE    ... in process

 

As usual [eg: squat-architecture], public interventions by citizens have at first the energy and confrontational presence of individualistic originative actions, they blossom on the public streets into a forest of affects. However, the works of some practitioners become recognisable and iconic, and eventually the target of 'collectors', commerce, and even leisure-flattering local councils. Unfortunately the pleasant warmth of this attention, and its concomitant image-filtering by their new sponsors and employers, has encouraged image-repetition and drained the creative energy of artists. Even the few most obviously talented, who have expanded their originations in size and location, emblazoning the planet's cities with their individualistic subject-matter, are becoming 'branded' via recognisibility and are thus slowly fosslising from lack of discovery and risk.

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Like all originations the most useful or beautiful begin to be sifted (from the increasing numbers widening this new region of freedom of action) by the public's cultural pundits and thereafter by its professional 'guardians of the norm'. Eventually the makers of works deemed useful and beautiful begin to be tempted, by people who perceive their cultural/business potential, into 'profitable employment'. Thus the energy of the solitary forcing open of the boundaries of society's environments and freedoms is relinquished for praise and profit (the fate of many artists). This is, in some respects of course, a cultural-experiential tragedy: the products of innovation and freedom are differentiated and the 'best' (in terms of the ruling/retrogressive judgments) is publicised and commodified; the growing shoots of freedom are amputated and originality is re-absorbed back into tradition. It seems that most graffitists have become or been replaced by compliant converts to the cause of (externally) provided public entertainment and distraction, and the innovative potentials they released (aesthetic and social) are reduced to a slight emphasis on decorative painting in public places and a freeing of public colour.  

 

#### transition from personally-motivated graffitist to 'professional easel artist' is often via legally commissioned public-site works.

 

COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': HOARDING AROUND COVENT GARDEN OPERA HOUSE, LONDON, WC2
(pic c1988) 
... in process

The fact that this is a commissioned image (the 'type' of the image has been chosen by others), inevitably displaces it from 'origination' to 'illustration' - a mere demonstration of what is publicly recognisable as "Graffiti" ... thus the act of making it is rendered sub-honest and plagiaristic (here it is a plagiarism that feeds on ones own originals). See [click on pic] the notice affixed top-right, an ugly signal of this displacement of graffiti's essential mode of origination, from the vitality of implanting onto the environment a spontaneous image of personal order, to the status of choosing and selling an 'exhibit to a museum'.


In an arena where every work (even the most pathetic tag) is an origination//original (if only in the sense that it is inserted into 'forbidden territory' and thus is powered by a sense of presence that ensures at least a basic experiential vitality), #### to seek to make a contribution to such a genre via the safety of a belief in ones competence to fulfill the expectations of 'official' commissioners and rely on their support for ones performance, is to produce a work that reassures everyone who is worried//frightened by the out-of-control ness of originations, that the genre is now tamed, its productions no longer unpredictable, that the anarchy of individual initiatives is now regularised and commodified. 


Such works are disastrously based on the dishonesty of a pretence of sufficient competence to achieve an original synthesis: a discovered and final image, an art object - whereas at best competence can only achieve (as we see here) a somewhat beautiful (especially the left-hand work) but rather tired and practiced craft fulfillment. If these painters continue to indulge such commissions their works will only become ever more stereotyped and deadening.

 

COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': BEEHIVE PLACE, BRIXTON, LONDON, SW9
(pic 04-1998) 

Permission has here replaced spontaneous personal need, and when a commissioned task that is neither fully personally motivated or completely practiced is undertaken the result has a look of doubt, a struggle to make already-known and imported fragments cohere with each other. Worse, this particular in-process work also reveals a struggle to make it at least appear to be 'an original'. This incoherent muddle of graffiti-derived motif-fragments betrays a state of mind whose efforts to portray are so reliant on fragmented memories of external sources not its own, that it will never discover a personal reason/principle for performing (let alone finalising) this puzzle.

COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': NEW CROSS ROAD (W OF NEW CROSS GATE STATION), LONDON, SE14
(paste-up 2-pics 10-06-2015)  ... in process


A result of official patronage: lots of legalised time to do 'craft-art' - with no stress to focus attention! This example: a hideous corruption of Picasso (especially of "Guernica" - a painting which distills outrage, horror and personal grief).
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COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': NEW CROSS ROAD (W OF NEW CROSS GATE STATION), LONDON, SE14
(pic 07-12-2015)  ... in process


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COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': NEW CROSS ROAD (W OF NEW CROSS GATE STATION), LONDON, SE14
(pic 01-06-2016)  ... in process


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COMMISSIONED 'PUBLIC-ART': NEIGHBOUR HOUSES IN AN EXPENSIVE LONDON SUBURB 

(pics 29-11-2014... in process

Two houses. On their facing side-facades they have each commissioned a 'graffiti-art' sheep motif - one black, one white ... how cute!  These are small variations of this painter's 'brand style/motif'.
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COMMISSIONED & PRIVATE 'PUBLIC-ART': HOUSES IN AN EXPENSIVE LONDON SUBURB 

(pic 09-05-2015... in process

Two houses. One house displays two commissioned 'graffiti-art' motifs (one by STIK is glimpsed at far left) - these are both the habitual iconic 'brand styles/motifs' of their painters. The other house's garage doors display an original public-art work by the owner.
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GRAFFIT-ART: ROA! SCULPTURE - PRIVATE COLLECTION

(pic 09-05-2015... in process

ROA! is usually a painter of large-scale street-art works [ref to previous section], here his sculptural work (possibly commissioned) is exhibited in a domestic setting. This is a real art-work: it's exploratory, not merely a 'brand-motif'.

With the boxes closed.
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GRAFFIT-ART: ROA! SCULPTURE - PRIVATE COLLECTION

(pic 09-05-2015... in process

With the boxes open.
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COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': DULWICH PARK BOWLS CLUB HUT + KITSCH 'EDUCATIONAL' NOTICES

(paste-up 2-pics 28-02-2017)  ... in process


The bourgeois-isation of public-art initiatives; the taming of independent socially-unobedient creativity, is here applied by a society which truly believes that an application of flattery and snobbery is publically beneficial, that a dose of 'educational information' (in this case ridiculous fantasy dressed up as serious custodianship) can administer more benefit to those whose attention is caught by these post-graffiti images, than 'automatic' enjoyment/rejection or considered personal thoughts! The fact that these 'brand-motif' painters were chosen to re-present the works of vastly more competent, historically significant painters, with whom they share only the banality of a habitual skill, which in the historical works is of such a complexity of achievement that it totally eclipses these simplistic motif-manufactures, is surely an expression of bitter irony or raving hysteria
[see the info-notices below]
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COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': DULWICH PARK BOWLS CLUB HUT - STIG PAINTING + INFO-NOTICE

(pic 28-02-2017) 

The affixed info-notice 'art-lesson' is administered by people whose visual-art literacy is so subservient to text-mediated knowledge their that they see nothing wrong with fixing one of their 'educational' notices on top of one of the images, obscuring a portion that they probably considered 'mere background'. Does this action suggest a subconscious dislike of this image, or reveal a person so lacking in respect for these so-called 'artists' that 'information' regarding their works is allowed to visually mutilate what it purports to elucidate?
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COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': DULWICH PARK BOWLS CLUB HUT - NOIR PAINTING + INFO-NOTICES

(pics 28-02-2017... in process

 

GRAFFITI-DERIVED KITSCH-ART: ART 'FAIR': 47 TANNER ST., LONDON., SE1 (INDUSTRIAL PREMISES)
(
paste-up 2-pics 06-09-2015)
... in process 

Such talent-fairs are a late stage in the commodification/popularisation of 'art', they present (useless) novelties that faintly//merely remind one of the truly shocking and incomprehensible objects produced in conditions of opposition to early 20thC culture (which are now valued as historical 'originals' and thus convey prestige). In order to evoke a memory of their indubitable presentness and to avoid the intensive work necessitated by realised innovation, their stylistic//style sources reside mainly in 2 forms of ethnic art associated with 'modernism': 'Graffiti' (glamorously banned and thus intensely energised), and the bizarre ceremonial products of quasi-alien human groups (celebrated in museums and 'antique' shops).
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GRAFFITI-DERIVED KITSCH-ART: ART 'FAIR': 47 TANNER ST., LONDON., SE1 (INDUSTRIAL PREMISES)
(pic 06-09-2015)
... in process

A transition from personally-motivated graffitist to 'professional artist' is either via a transit to 'street-artist', via legally commissioned public works, and/or a re-birth as a 'studio-artist' via works made in private, which often re-present their graffiti works shrunk to fit the traditional constraints of 'art-paintings': of a portable size, made to hang on walls, often in mounts or frames, often signed, and sold via an 'art fair' or an art-dealer.
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GRAFFITI-DERIVED KITSCH-ART: ART 'FAIR': 47 TANNER ST., LONDON., SE1 (INDUSTRIAL PREMISES)
(pics 06-09-2015)
... in process

Sometimes the constraints of making a 'picture' (rather than covering a wall or an undefined area) are destructively challenging. Here the process of limiting a freely growing 'doodle'/improvisation to 'picture-sized bites' tends to threaten a basic constituent of its maker's constructional method - that each motif directly stimulates or grows into the next - a dynamic continuing. Thus - having found himself in a commercially motivated 'art fair' - this maker is struggling with the problem of reducing his 'endless' work to 'a picture' or selling it as if 'by the yard' on paper-rolls!

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COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': NOIR - COMMERCIAL GALLERY, SHOREDITCH HIGH ST., LONDON, E1
(paste-up 2-pics 6-08-2015)

Every type of homey item is emblasoned with or distorted into "Noir" style shapes. This famous graffitist has become a brand and his patron-gallery has aided the completion of a typical 'circular' career, facilitating the meeting of its two banal extremes: at its start the 'tag' (perceived as staking possession of its whole location) meets at its end the iconic-'brand' (that can convert a whole world of consumer objects, each into a fragment of a single celebrity).

Every type of homey item is emblasoned with or distorted into "Noir" style shapes. This famous graffitist has become a brand and his patron-gallery has aided the completion of a typical ' circular' career, facilitating the meeting of its two banal extremes: at its start the 'tag' (perceived as staking possession of its whole location) meets at its end the iconic-'brand' (that can convert a whole world of consumer objects, each into a fragment of a single celebrity).
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COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': NOIR - COMMERCIAL GALLERY, SHOREDITCH HIGH ST., LONDON, E1
(paste-up 2-pics 6-08-2015)
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COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': GREAT EASTERN ST (VIEW FROM OLD ST), LONDON, EC1
(pic 4-06-2015)

A crude and outdated type of utilitarian office building, recently re-imaged with a clever paint job that wittily cuts its side elevation diagonally, like an unwanted present emerging from a gift-box, contrasting its dynamic jollity with the original's stolid gloom.


The astonishingly (for the UK) brazen style and scale of this paint-transformation makes me wonder if it shares with genuine (sub-legal) graffiti a lack of 'official' sanction. Recently much graffiti has disappeared from this area and as if in substitution, some shops, commercial premises, hoardings, have adopted a visually strident full-colour decorative style that could be influenced by (ie exhibit a debased mass-mnemonic stereotype for) the visual richness and dynamism of genuine graffiti, or at least a commercial cashing-in of this area's graffiti fame.
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COMMISSIONED 'GRAFFITI/PUBLIC-ART': 239 etc OLD ST, LONDON, EC1`
(pic 4-06-2015)  ... in process

The TRAMPERY Conference Center's 'sophisticated' glass-facade decoration (? Sept 2014?) contrasts with the rather 'dull-routine' commissioned comic-book style graffiti of the BOUNCE ping pong shop-shutter. However the choice of both these may be indebted to the area's prevalence of (of multiple styles of) graffiti and the mass-cultural//mass-habitual//mass-mimetic bias it generated//has left behind ! 

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INDEX   
IMPROVISED-ARCH IN AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL SQUATS & COLLECTIVES

IMPROVISATION - PUBLIC & LEGAL - ALLOTMENTS  
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - WANDSWORTH / KEW BRIDGE
VERNACULAR & STYLE - BERDUN, HUESCA
TEMPORARY-ARCHITECTURE - FRANK'S CAFE / SOUTHWARK LIDO 
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS 
 
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES 

ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC
ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA 

GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART  

DESIGN & CHANCE

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