OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Children come first, except when walls come first

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  • Robyn Gallagher,

    all this stock standard typography and grammatical regulation is nutting me out.

    I once read that graffiti is a very conservative artform. The standard form was established in the 1970s and there's been little change to it since then. Very few graffiti artists veer from the template of writing their name in big bubble letters with spraypaint.

    But every now and then I'll see something on the streets of Auckland that is just a bit different from the rest. For example, this one which was done with house paint and fills a vertical space.

    I'm also fond of the accidental art caused by buffs (that's the name for when the council man paints over graffiti). I found this powerful yellow wall in Palmerston North with three shades of yellow paint. In fact, there's a Flickr group dedicated to the interesting art those blotches of paint accidentally create in their effort to cover over someone else's art.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Snowy,

    the grafitti removal art is really nice - a bit mondrian but less uptight

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I once read that graffiti is a very conservative artform.

    I don't think that Tag-graffiti is an art-form per-say. The big bubble letters, They are typographical design along with most other tags. It can be categorized in a relatively limited artistic context, in my opinion. As Robyn say's, it's conservative. It also lacks sophistication of purpose compared with say... the Bauhaus. But like the Bauhaus it is the typographical component to larger cultural-environment design movement.

    It's also seen as and intended to be vandalism. It aggressively invades space with arrogant dictation of its aesthetic. For that it can be considered an antisocial behavior. In it's wider sociological context, I see it as a symptom rather than a problem. I think it is more of artistic interest than merit. I like it because it's disruptive. It's like natures way of saying somethings wrong.

    A Tagged city is a city with a lung infection. the tagging is like the coughing. The actual city needs to stop smoking rather than drinking more cough mixture. As I was saying, I like graffiti, I'm also keen on heavy industrial environments. It's all subjective. "Tell my Mom to tell my Dad I'm in jail and I like it here"

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • ali bramwell,

    the grafitti removal art is really nice - a bit mondrian but less uptight

    personally I enjoy the sense of the city as being continually overwritten, palimpsest style...and we might as well like it because change happens with or without an accompanying sense of irony and wry enjoyment that the view is new today, again. History is still there, it just has another layer added.

    Im not a tagger myself, no street cred points to score, but I do walk everywhere and am often rewarded by the witty urban additions that appear, both official and unofficial. The delightful new The Warehouse and Mitre 10 Mega buildings in South Dunedin (bright red and orange respectively) are saucy little numbers that are recognised additions to the sense of community harmony and regularly make passersby chuckle fondly.

    The University Branch of National Bank has also entered into a slapstick comedy routine by painting a wall overlooking their carpark pristinely white except for the block lettered sign in the center that says "please dont graffitti this wall". (I mean really...a girl might as well install a big red button in a kids playground with the sign "please do not under any circumstances push this button"). the local spray bunnies have shown commendable restraint and there are only ever one or two small (but everpresent) taggish embellishments placed insouciantly near to the politely worded request.

    In my wanderings I have definitely noticed a rise in strategic buffing as a new street form..again Im including the accidental 'official' contributions in my story, the accidental Mondrian effect referred to already by others. I particularly like the technique that writes by removing dirt selectively...If I find a link to an online pic I'll post it. but, another day...enuf of the rambling circumnavigations.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2007 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    I noticed around the corner from my place last night, that some zany marketing agency for Telecom have put cheeky little stencil arts of that new Okta branding (the swanky avatar/paper-cutout people things) amongst work from Component etc.
    Clearly we need to amend the Telecom separation legislation to include anti-tagging provisions.

    (Unless some cad put it up with a deeper anti-establishment message that I entirely missed)

    Now that just really pisses me off, I am glad I am not in Auckland to see it.
    I can't remember the magazine, but ages ago I saw a spread in a NZ magazine of some graffiti artists "bombing" a large billboard for Coke somewhere in central Auckland. On the one hand, it is good to see talented people having the time and funds to execute something on a large scale where everyone can see it (gainfully employed and all that). On the other hand, it is a shame that it has to be for Coke. I guess I have adbuster tenancies because I love a good culture jam. That doesn't mean that I am some hipster who only appreciates "proper graffiti" a la banksy and separates off tagging into an entirely separate category; I don't think this is actually possible.

    I think it is more of artistic interest than merit. I like it because it's disruptive. It's like natures way of saying somethings wrong.

    That is absolutely my opinion too, in fact NZ had a graffiti magazine called "Disrupt" (now defunct) which was really good.

    I'm also fond of the accidental art caused by buffs (that's the name for when the council man paints over graffiti).

    Me too, I have collection of photos from places I have travelled. I can see that from the perspective of the small business owner who spends his or her hard earned dosh removing tagging there is nothing beautiful about the mismatched paint and the stubborn traces of smudged marker pen but I would never want to live in a city completely devoid of tagging.
    My local dairy owner has spent a lot of money painting over tagging in the last month, he no doubt does not share my "industrial aesthetic". Tagging is antisocial and disruptive which is why a different kind of societal attention should be paid to it. Knee-jerk reactions such as banning spray cans are just never going to eliminate angry/disruptive/antisocial/artistic/anti-corporate/whimsical/fame-whoring/ugly/beautiful/accidentally beautiful/juvenile/ironic/territorial/playful/drunken public markings.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Coke advert vs. Tagging: In terms of cultural vandalism I know which one wins.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    On the other hand, it is a shame that it has to be for Coke.

    Fact of life. Every now and then, Coca-Cola Inc. adopts a campaign embracing "edgy" creative. I'd take the money too.

    Red Bull is dreadful sugared caffeine water, but I also don't blame the kids who let themselves be flown around the world to Red Bull's apparently brilliant music/DJ workshops.

    When we did Planet magazine, we also relied on our edgy saleability to global brands, including a certain trouser company. The staff were suburban (but very nice people), we provided the street. I have a funny story about that ...

    Oh, alright, I'll tell it, although some people might have heard it before. The trouser company took us out to dinner after we'd completed an edgy instore mag for them.

    The food took forever, and they let me, on my working-for-the-dole income, order the wine. I pleased my palate so generously that my tongue became a little loose.

    So I began telling them about our friend [REDACTED], who would come up to our office on K Road. He had genital piercings, plural. And one day, he came charging up the stairs, sweating profusely, and ran for the toilets.

    For the next however long, we were treated to the sound of him moaning, as if in mortal pain ...

    At this point in the story, I looked up to see the trouser folk, ashen-faced, jaws agape ...

    I had been talking with my buddy beforehand about exactly where the lines of conversation might be drawn. I had just run right over one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    There is a big blue wall just down the street a little from our place and it has always attracted tagging, it has been cleaned so often that the graffiti guard has started to peel. Normally the tagging is removed within days but since the "News" about taggers hit the headlines things seem to have changed. Last night I noticed a guy, wearing overalls and rubber gloves came along and started taking photos of the tags. as he was doing this the "offenders" turned up (yes, I knew who they were) and started posing for the camera. Like duh!. The graffiti is still there, it looks like it says "MAFTAX" (although I doubt if is was the Min. of Agg. and Fish demanding a new tax) a little further along the wall are the letters DTR and Need Cash? Easy... but I think that may have something to do with the firm that has the corner shop.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rochelle Hume,

    (Or is this your subtle lawyerly way of exacting revenge for his Werewolf algorithm?)

    Umm, yeah David - that was it totally!!

    And what the hell is a LARKER????

    Warkworth • Since Sep 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Rochelle Hume,

    Okay.

    My bad. Again.

    I meant Larper.... I don't know what that is either.

    Warkworth • Since Sep 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Rochelle Hume,

    Duly enlightened- thanks Kyle.

    Warkworth • Since Sep 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    I think Annette King has said in Parliament that for something to be proper art it had to have permission and be respectful (? I'm not sure about the last one - this was inspired by someone else later and they may have been adding-to rather than summarising).

    I feel like I'm being radicalised.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Okay, 'respectful' was Flavell talking about something else entirely. I'll stop now.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Okay folks, if you've got an hour to spare (and if you haven't, I recommend finding the time) here is the Style Wars documentary that was filmed 25 years ago about the NYC graffiti scene.
    I've just finished watching it again and it has so many amazing threads running thru it I'm not even going to bother saying anything more. Just watch and enjoy!
    (NB: some of you may need to eat your words regarding 'but is it art?')
    (PS: I was going to put it on the video page but that is for kiwi videos. If RB thinks this qualifies [it was for kiwi kids the equivalent of Moses coming down from the mountain with 2 stone tablets] then he can repost)

    http://video.google.com/videopopup?q=http%3A%2F%2Fvp.video.google.com%2Fvideodownload%3Fversion%3D0%26secureurl%3DrQAAAAUuJcP0fDnC_Va9USt9Se2sARtPPM1QozYrnTUqi5EixFHTbVnFDWTLs0Z8N0woLl8-PFGWoDtK8cFVtWuZvst2C0FqqsIPUGvLa91WbcYVEIGFxqyk6l9vFOrdU4pt8c1yuQUw484XaKukIAPq6DMkVy8FYz4bTJUk_5JcePdIzXpj383F5viJKoQv_W_Ghco7YKaCx1No4PZn_uz7CdCHvdzI0qb0xUzI770x9hF1%26sigh%3Dtv-97yPb8aGNRDUfVzfGMWOpHKY%26begin%3D82182%26len%3D4186720%26docid%3D-5065949310221269915&docid=-5065949310221269915&fscid=fsc_468443577&windowtitle=Style+Wars+-+Google+Video+-+Full+Screen

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    The whole background two this sucks.

    It started because a middle-aged white male killed a kid. Now, shouldn't we be doing something to get the not insubstantial number of middle-aged white psychopaths (someone who considers that killing is an appropriate response to petty vandalism is, in my book, a psychopath) off the streets and into appropriate institutions?

    No, we should ensure that these nutters aren't provoked by a bit of tagging. Maybe ban spray cans altogether - so that a whole genre of legitimate art is eliminated, not to mention all the other artistic and decorative uses of spray paint.

    If you have an issue with "your" property being tagged, then get some graffiti artists to bomb it for you. It's fairly proven that a lot fewer taggers spray over other peoples pieces than a blank wall.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    In the mean time, here's my Tag.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Now I'm of to bomb another thread.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I guess future nanotechnology could allow for graffiti that moves.

    Further, if painted over, it could remove the upper paint layer and restore itself.

    If erasure was persistenly attempted, it could proceed to eat the wall and turn it into Grey Gloop.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • NigelW,

    Oh what a glorious focus on the effect - shuffling off the blame for the cause onto the poor puzzled youth of today.

    Many taggers are far too young to buy an Evo and thus are deprived of the opportunity of using the car accelerator as a means of self expression concerning their grief at the abject failure of their parents to live up to their own myths. Parents who are the pitiful spare ribs of the noble hopes of all men and women who fought two horrible wars (or was it three, four of maybe five) and endured a depression in the hope that we would be a free and self-sufficient people?

    So these children watch as their parents are unable to even get out of their recliners to unseat the liars and unscrupulous law-makers (liberty takers) in the big house. No wonder they decide to express their angst in a way that expresses their individuality and their disrespect for the empty authority we have created.

    And now another law - the issue remains - and while we their parents remain powerless to remove the cause of the frustration and fear of the lost generation we have bred we have no right to expect any better of them than we can give our selves.

    Until we conspicuously and comprehensively regain the moral high ground how can we expect our children to behave as we would like?

    The cleanout must start at the top - with clearing away the darkness of Paintergate, Drivergate, liargate, liargate liargate - and work its way down into our bowels until the purge is complete and we stand again a clean, vigorous and proud people.

    Then such laws will be redundant.

    Since Feb 2008 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Hillary,

    I LOVE tagging. I LOVE to see the artwork of a group in our society who tend to be forgotten and invisible except perhaps in the Courts.

    But I love it for its artisitic merit too. Sure some of it is crap, but there's alot of other images out there that are worse crap. For example, billboards advertising alco-pops to get young people wasted.

    What a boring bloody city we would live in if there was no tagging. And, they do it for FREE.

    Come on everyone stop being so SQUARE.

    wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Hillary,

    I LOVE tagging. I LOVE to see the artwork of a group in our society who tend to be forgotten and invisible except perhaps in the Courts.

    But I love it for its artisitic merit too. Sure some of it is crap, but there's alot of other images out there that are worse crap. For example, billboards advertising alco-pops to get young people wasted.

    What a boring bloody city we would live in if there was no tagging. And, they do it for FREE.

    Come on everyone stop being so SQUARE.

    wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Hillary - are you drawing a distinction between tagging and graffiti art?

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Hillary,

    Permalink, I'm talking about tagging in the sense of the 'youth branding' thing for example, along the rail corridor. Is that what you mean by graffiti art? There seems to be less of other types of graffiti art around these days.

    Sometimes where the artist has managed to tag is part of its appeal - how did they get away with that? Or, the colourful signatures, that have been so carefully crafted. The thought of this other world happening while most of us are at home asleep is very energising.

    And its an example of youth doing what they have always done: upset 'grown-ups'. And boy doesn't it!!

    wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 3 posts Report Reply

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