Graffiti has been one of the most aesthetically transformative forms of public artwork that has emerged in the last 40 years. It has changed the urban landscape and social space from dull, blank canvases to sometimes beautiful swaths of color, concept and design. In Chicago, you can’t buy spray paint, and there exists a clan of “Graffiti Blasters” that take to the street and claimed to have blasted over 1.6 million instances of graffiti vandalism. According to the city of Chicago’s website, “Graffiti is vandalism, it scars the community, hurts property values and diminishes our quality of life.” How many of these 1.6 million instances were brightening the community? Graffiti has even become part of the art institution, with artists like Banksy, Margaret Kilgallen, Fab Five Freddie, etc. showing in esteemed museums and sold at auction houses. Who owns the urban landscape, the city or the people who live there?
This project creates graffiti kits that are distributed in two different ways. The first consists of pieces of colored paper that coincide with bricklaying patterns, instructions on how to form different patterns that reflect the different brick laying techniques, along with paste and a brush inside a designed box. The English, Flemish, Stretcher, and American bonds are the most common bricklaying techniques in the urban environment and are embodiments of the neighborhoods characteristics and history. The templates of the brick patterns and colors (pieces of paper in the physical kits) are also available online, so anyone, anywhere will be able to participate in the project by downloading and cutting them out. There are also QR codes available that will create and interactive experience for people walking down the street. The QR codes will consist of educational information about the place where the tags are installed, or emotional states that the installer wants to convey. This way the graffiti becomes a source of further exploration for the public through the technological architecture of smart phones. People from outside of the Chicago will be able to participate with the QR codes by creating their own, printing them, cutting them out and integrating them with the project. Of course, once in the hands of a potential consumer or user, they can do whatever they want, but the true form of this piece would emerge from these instructions.I chose bricks as the specific form to reference because they are ubiquitous as building materials, therefore part of our everyday experience, create patterns, and have a dull, boring color. The aesthetics of the finalized piece take cues from conceptual art (Sol Lewitt), the architectural line, color pallets from graffiti art, and technology. By having this project also exist free and open sourced alongside the physical kit, the ethics of graffiti culture are kept real. Educating or emoting through graffiti and technology is something that I’m also interested in too, as the graffiti then becomes an attribute to the urban landscape, instead of a “problem”.
Images and templates: