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!

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.

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.

Tearing down Berlin’s East Side Gallery?

March 28, 2013 on 3:19 pm | In global news | Comments Off on Tearing down Berlin’s East Side Gallery?

photo by Rex

photo by Rex

The battle of real estate developers versus art-loving citizens plays itself out again, this time in the city of Berlin. I’m old enough to remember when the Berlin Wall came down the first time. Then, it was something to celebrate. Now, it’s something to protest against. How times change.

Just say no to SOPA and PROTECT-IP (PIPA).

December 30, 2011 on 5:49 am | In global news, site updates | Comments Off on Just say no to SOPA and PROTECT-IP (PIPA).

Graffiti Archaeology’s domain has been registered at the sketchy domain registrar for several years now. But then GoDaddy announced its support for SOPA, an extremely toxic bit of legislation being considered by the US Congress, which if passed, would empower a single government bureaucrat with a switch to kill any web domain of his choosing, without any public oversight, due process, or even notification to the owner of the domain being killed. SOPA (and its evil twin, PIPA) would effectively destroy the free Internet as we know it, and it would very specifically pose a threat to projects like this one. So I’m happy to announce that as of today, we’re taking our business elsewhere.

Visitors might experience some downtime as we get the DNS records established with our new registrar, but hopefully it’ll all be straightened out quickly.

Restoring a mural using QR codes

December 15, 2011 on 7:12 am | In global news | Comments Off on Restoring a mural using QR codes

Wooster Collective reader Jason V. shared an interesting series of photos of a mural in Vancouver. After the mural was tagged with a big red anarchy sign, someone went over the tag with a giant QR code, apparently painted by hand. The code leads back to an image of the original mural. I went ahead and made an animated GIF of the whole repeating cycle, for your recursive pleasure:

This isn’t the first time someone has tried something like this, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it in North America. A Berlin-based artist named Sweza did something similar last year: Retrieving buffed graf with QR codes

Thanks to Eric Rodenbeck for the link!

Serge Gainsbourg’s wall

November 7, 2009 on 10:07 pm | In global news, related links | Comments Off on Serge Gainsbourg’s wall

Serge Gainsbourg – animation des graffitis sur 5 ans du mur rue de Verneuil from Arnaud Jourdain on Vimeo.

This video, by Arnaud Jourdain, documents five years of the history of a graffiti wall in Paris dedicated to Serge Gainsbourg. What’s brilliant is the way he does it: instead of just playing back the photos in series, he isolates each individual tag, puts it on its own layer, and explodes the whole glorious mess out into space with 3D animation. It’s a beautiful, fresh take on the Graffiti Archaeology meme. The wall itself, with love notes and other hommages interspersed among the tags and wheatpastes, reminds me of the John Lennon wall in Prague.

Pixação vs. Graffiti in São Paulo

September 12, 2008 on 8:28 am | In global news | 2 Comments


Just weeks after the legalization of graffiti (and re-criminalization of pixação) in Brazil, there’s more news on the split between these two subcultures. Some pixadores were not too happy with the commodification of street art, so they got together to tag up an entire gallery, walls, paintings, prints and all. Read on to see the flyer they distributed to organize the event. (Via Wooster Collective.)

Update: Wooster Collective got the photos from the Gallery’s Flickr stream, and if you follow that link you can see a long list of comments from Brazilians who are fans of either pixação or graffiti/street art. There may be some interesting discussions brewing in there, so if I find any choice bits I’ll try to post translations here later.

Continue reading Pixação vs. Graffiti in São Paulo…

Undercroft saved by the Prime Minister’s office?

September 10, 2008 on 1:43 am | In global news | Comments Off on Undercroft saved by the Prime Minister’s office?

A recent edit to the Wikipedia entry for “Queen Elizabeth Hall” added mention of the Undercroft, and Graffiti Archaeology’s coverage of it. Also linked is an article in Time Out London that credits the Prime Minister’s office with saving the Undercroft from development into shops:

Are some government ministers secret skateboarders? We think they must be. Back in January, we reported on rumours that the underpass of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank was set to be developed into retail outlets.

Last month Downing Street responded to the campaign with a statement that read: ‘The Southbank Centre (SBC) is an independent arts organisation and decisions about the undercroft are a matter for them. [But] any activity that engages young people can have a positive impact on society, and the skateboarding community that has grown up around the undercroft has brought together people from various backgrounds, created a vibrant public space and added real value to the lives of many young people.’

London’s skaters are delighted. ‘It’s rad, obviously,’ says skateboarder Ninian Doff. ‘If skaters left the South Bank now, it’d be like the Tower losing its ravens – the place would crumble.’

The next battle for the skaters is to get the area returned to the size it was before the SBC boarded up two thirds of it to use as storage during the redevelopment of the Royal Festival Hall.

Also be sure to set aside 23 minutes of your day to check out this excellent documentary about the space. It succeeds wonderfully at explaining why a shared public space like this, with its own organically-grown street culture, is so important to the life of any city.

(found via this photo on Flickr.)

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