Cascading time slices

September 18, 2023 on 12:42 am | In site updates | Comments Off on Cascading time slices

Here’s something new! A few years ago (checks notes… uh, 9 years ago!) I started working on some different ways of visualizing the changes on the walls I’ve documented for this project. Some of the walls are very long, and fit dozens of burners end to end. If you stitch together a slice for each moment in time, you can stack up the slices and get this interesting cascading effect. Some pieces get gone over quickly, while others (like this one by TWICK from 2005) stay up for months. The long-lasting pieces become stalactites of color dripping down through time.

An animated GIF. Starting with a closeup of a graffiti piece by TWICK, we zoom out slowly to reveal that it's just one slice of a timelapse stack showing all the changes that have happened along a much larger wall over a span of years.
A preview of things to come…

I’m working my way through some of my favorite walls now. Ultimately the goal is to print these in the biggest format possible, so you can step up close and appreciate the details, and then stand back and grok the whole history at once, like an all-seeing graffiti god.

Project INDIGO

May 15, 2023 on 7:06 am | In events and press, global news, related links | Comments Off on Project INDIGO

Back in 2002, when Graffiti Archaeology was still just an idea and a shoebox full of photos, I didn’t know how the project would take shape. I was intent on capturing time, and change, and the work on the walls, but beyond that, anything was possible.

We considered building it in 3D: image-based modeling research had just started appearing in SIGGRAPH papers a few years before, so it seemed plausible. I imagined flying around in virtual tunnels mapped with photographed textures, and feeling like you were really there. But the research techniques were still experimental, and 3D on the web wasn’t really a thing yet either, so there was no easy way to share it with the world. So we set aside that fantasy, and opted for the 2D approach you see on the site, with a workflow based on production-ready tools like Photoshop and Flash.

A lot has changed since then. And last week I learned that a team in Vienna has picked up that dream and is running with it: Project INDIGO.

A timestamped, seamlessly stitched 3D model of the left bank of the Donaukanal.

Their region of interest is a three-kilometer stretch of the Donaukanal, a branch of the Danube river that winds through the oldest part of Vienna and has been a graf magnet for decades. And these folks are serious. They’re methodical, and thorough, and their goal is nothing less than complete coverage, because then it can be used for science! But they’re also serious about ethics, so they’re trying to approach it in a way that respects writers and graffiti culture.

In 2022 they held a symposium that brought together graffiti writers, archaeologists, and other academics to discuss the project. I’m still poring over the proceedings— there’s a lot in there– but I quite like what I’ve read so far.

They’re holding a second symposium next month. Wish I could be there in person!

Subscription to Mischief

May 12, 2023 on 8:05 pm | In events and press, local news, stories and history | Comments Off on Subscription to Mischief

Last weekend I got to attend the opening reception of a fantastic new exhibition put up by San Francisco’s Letterform Archive: Subscription to Mischief features a beautifully curated collection of photos, correspondence, and other ephemera from the dawn of graffiti zines in the 1990’s. It’s an amazing window into the pre-internet days when zines like Skills, 12 Oz Prophet, and Can Control were the only way writers from around the world could learn about each other’s work. The exhibition runs until November 2023. If you’re in the Bay Area, don’t miss it!

Graffiti Archaeology is running again!

March 22, 2023 on 6:55 pm | In site updates | Comments Off on Graffiti Archaeology is running again!
The logo.

Thanks to the brilliant and benevolent creators of (the Rust-based Flash emulator), Graffiti Archaeology is now up and running again!

Graffiti Archaeology running on an iPhone!

And, for the first time ever, it even works on iOS (although be warned, the UI was not designed to be operated with big thumbs on a tiny touchscreen, so it may not be the best experience on a mobile phone.)

Please try it out on your device of choice, and leave a comment here if you experience any weird bugs or glitches!

Flash is dead. Long live Ruffle!

April 4, 2022 on 5:36 am | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on Flash is dead. Long live Ruffle!

On December 31, 2020, Adobe officially stopped supporting the Flash Player, and for the first time (ahem, second time) since we launched in 2002, Graffiti Archaeology went dark.

But the internet is proving to be full of surprises. A community of kindly Rust developers have created a Flash emulator called Ruffle, designed to “just work” on any Flash-based site, but founded on modern concepts of safety and security. It’s very much a work in progress, and they have not yet finished implementing all of Flash’s many capabilities, but it is really impressive how far they’ve come.

So, if you came here to try out our interactive app, but saw only a sad broken plugin icon, we have good news: you can still use it (albeit with some significant UI bugs) by installing the Ruffle extension in your browser of choice. Once the developers have worked out all the kinks, we’ll switch the site over to use Ruffle automatically (without requiring the extension).

In the meantime, here’s a video play-through of the original Flash version for posterity.

The Curious Frontier of Red

July 3, 2015 on 4:17 am | In global news, related links | Comments Off on The Curious Frontier of Red

Mobstr Gif

UK-based stencil artist Mobstr noticed something odd about the way a wall in his neighborhood got buffed, so he decided to do a little psychological experiment, with hilarious results. I went ahead and grafarc-ized it into an animated gif.

Sites of Respect

February 26, 2015 on 4:20 am | In global news, related links | Comments Off on Sites of Respect

Sites of Respect from Cameron McAuliffe on Vimeo.

Check out this video by human geographer Cameron McAuliffe from Sydney, Australia: Sites of Respect: Legal Graffiti Walls and the Moral Geographies of Young People. He spent 28 weeks photographing a set of seven legal walls in the Parramatta neighborhood of Sydney, tracking their changes on a weekly basis, until a newly elected conservative council ended the legal wall program and tore all the walls down.

Invisible graffiti that glows under UV

December 12, 2014 on 7:27 pm | In related links | Comments Off on Invisible graffiti that glows under UV

What would you do with a can of spraypaint that’s invisible by day, but glows under black light? Check out Bilal Ghalib’s Glowffiti project for details. (via Golan Levin.)

5 Pointz gets buffed

November 19, 2013 on 6:51 pm | In events and press, global news | Comments Off on 5 Pointz gets buffed

Photo by Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

Photo by Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

The slowly-unfolding tragedy in Queens just took a sudden turn for the worse. In a move worthy of a fantasy villain, the owner of the building known as 5 Pointz has ordered decades of artwork buffed overnight. Read more about it in the New York Times or the Guardian.

Respect the alphabet. Support “Handselecta: Flip the Script”.

March 28, 2013 on 5:29 pm | In related links | Comments Off on Respect the alphabet. Support “Handselecta: Flip the Script”.

I haven’t yet read Christian Acker’s new book “Handselecta: Flip the Script”, but from what I’ve seen, it looks like a thorough, scholarly, and invaluable piece of work. He’s compiled hundreds of interviews, tags, and alphabet samples from writers across the US, in a grand taxonomy and analysis of regional handstyles, the roots of all graffiti culture. I can’t wait to read it, and I’ll be first in line when he comes to San Francisco to speak.

If you’re as into this stuff as I am, you might want to show your support.

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