5 Pointz

November 30, 2005 on 1:58 pm | In global news | 1 Comment

5 Pointz

I spent Thanksgiving weekend in New York, where I had the immense pleasure of visiting the famous 5 Pointz. It’s a whole block of industrial buildings located right next to the elevated 7 line in Long Island City, Queens. (If you take the train out there from Manhattan, just look out the windows on the left side. You can’t miss it. Or click here for directions.)

A bit about the history of this spot: starting in the early 1990’s, this building was known as the Phun Phactory, and curated by a man named Pat DiLillo. A dispute with the landlord ended that project, and without anyone to cultivate the art on the walls, the building got bombed with tags and the overall quality went way down. In 2002, local writer Meres approached the landlord with the new project, and 5 Pointz, the Institute of Higher Burnin’, was born. People paint there now only with Meres’ permission, and hundreds of writers have contributed their pieces to bring the building up to a whole new level.

I spent a few hours wandering around the place and documented it as well as I could. I took a few hundred photos, which was not nearly enough, but you can see some of them here. I encountered two groups of people shooting video projects, and at least five different writers midway through painting pieces as I strolled through the space. I also got to see Meres himself in action, teaching technique to some young aspiring writers, coordinating the new work going up, and even taking the time to demonstrate the basics of style for the tourists. The man’s dedication and patience were impressive.

5 Pointz’ future looks bright: to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the project, Meres says he plans to cover the rest of the building top to bottom next spring. Meanwhile, of course, I hope to do a timelapse treatment of those walls once I’ve gathered enough photos. (As always, if you have photos you’d like to contribute, please do!)

Someone please remove this man’s thumbs before he hurts somebody.

November 3, 2005 on 11:48 pm | In global news | Comments Off on Someone please remove this man’s thumbs before he hurts somebody.

photo by Jeff Scheid, AP

Apparently the mayor of Las Vegas has forgotten about that whole “cruel and inhuman punishment” thing in, what’s it called? Oh yeah: the U.S. Constitution. Or maybe he’s just hoping to get promoted into the neocons’ White House. I hear they’re big fans of torture there.

Read the article here: Mayor: Sever Thumbs of Graffiti Artists

Update: Wooster Collective wants your thumbs!

Update 2: According to Visual Resistance, this Goodman guy has connections to organized crime.

(Thanks to Ben Fischler for the original link.)

the graffiti of disaster

November 3, 2005 on 1:53 pm | In global news | Comments Off on the graffiti of disaster
Got Fema?

Interesting article on the Reuters feed about graffiti in the wake of the hurricanes in New Orleans: New Orleans dotted with the graffiti of disaster.

A can of spray paint was a crucial tool for New Orleans rescue teams marking buildings in the search for survivors after Hurricane Katrina. Seven weeks later, the homespun graffiti is spelling out another kind of message.

“FEMA, where y’at?” reads the writing on a toppled column in the median of a deserted street in St. Bernard Parish, where residents remain bitter about the slow federal response to the flooding and winds that flattened homes and flipped cars.

(via Visual Resistance.)

barnstormers spread the know

October 12, 2005 on 1:32 pm | In global news | Comments Off on barnstormers spread the know
Spread the Know

Spread the Know is the latest project by the amazing timelapse painting collective The Barnstormers. This one’s for the good cause of promoting HIV testing and AIDS awareness. They took over a whole city block and part of a subway station, with splashes of color and layers upon layers of styles, and captured the whole process on film with slick motion-control camera moves. There’s no way I could not love this, since it brings together three of my favorite things: street art, timelapse photography and activism. But on top of that, they do it with tremendous amounts of style. Also see their Motion Paintings page for examples of their earlier work, like We Love Music and Scrounge.

Be the printer. It’s all in the wrist.

October 6, 2005 on 8:57 pm | In global news | 3 Comments

Vincent Leclerc’s FatJab is the latest in a series of painting machines (like Applied Autonomy’s GraffitiWriter and StreetWriter, and Joshua Kinberg’s Bikes Against Bush.) What they all have in common is a linear array of nozzles that sweep out messages, dot-matrix style, across a surface. But what’s different about FatJab is that it’s not something you drive– it’s something you wield, mounted on a set of brass knuckles, like a cyborganic paint-ninja. How hot is that?

Unfortunately the site has only a handful of pictures, and no examples of anything painted with it yet, but I’m hoping that will change very soon, once they find some people with enough skill to test the thing.

(via Protein Feed, via Kevan. Thanks Kev!)

paint fragment from Belmont Art Park

September 25, 2005 on 1:21 pm | In global news | Comments Off on paint fragment from Belmont Art Park

This is an extreme closeup scan of a paint chip retrieved from the ruins of Belmont Art Park by Amy McKenzie earlier this year. This fragment consists of about 150-200 separate layers of paint, the product of a ridiculous amount of work laid down over the decades.

Help save Belmont Art Park

July 13, 2005 on 4:53 pm | In global news | Comments Off on Help save Belmont Art Park

Belmont Art Park, site of the famous tunnel featured on the cover of the recent New York Times article, is still in danger of being destroyed. The culprit: a housing developer who has repeatedly demonstrated disrespect for both the law and the local community’s wishes.

Belmont Art Park United is preparing a letter from the community to the local government board with authority over the site. If you’d like to add your name to the signature list, please send an email to belmontartproject@yahoo.com with your name and the group you represent. Better yet, write your own letter, and send it to this address:

CalEPA, California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region

320 W. 4th Street, Suite 200

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Attn: Yue Rong, PhD


For more details, read on:

Continue reading Help save Belmont Art Park…

The archaeologists weigh in

June 27, 2005 on 8:07 pm | In global news | 2 Comments

It had to happen eventually.

When I named this site, I was kind of groping for words, and stumbled on a phrase that seemed to capture this whole timelapse photocollage thing: “Graffiti Archaeology”. It seemed like a good fit, since it conveyed a sense of history, study, and attention to detail. And I felt the work I was doing was at least analogous to the most well-known aspect of what archaeologists do: carefully removing newer layers of stuff to reveal the older stuff underneath, and studying it. I did wonder, though, what real archaeologists would think of the project. Would they scoff, or would they gush, or would they engage critically with the idea?

The answer, apparently, is all of the above.

A few weeks ago, I got a wonderful email from Sarah May, a contemporary archaeologist working for English Heritage. Her field of study, she wrote, was railway lines, and our site had inspired her to start documenting graffiti as well. I asked her what her specific interest was, and she wrote “My interest in railways is rubbish.” I thought that was awfully self-effacing of her, until I read on and realized she was being literal. “The distinctive nature of rubbish on railways, its distribution patterns and what these things tell us about railways as place and non-places. Yes archaeologists are odd.” Odd indeed, but my kind of odd!

Today, Alun, a Phd student specializing in archaeoastronomy, brought a different perspective. He critiqued our site for its lack of discussion and evaluation, saying that without that, it can’t be true archaeology. (Others don’t seem as bothered by this: Alexandra Mack, an anthropologist, thinks it’s a fair term, and Savage Minds agrees.)

Alun’s critique highlights what’s currently missing from the site: a way for us to add metadata to our layers, beyond just place names and dates. Utimately I’d like the photocollages to act as a foundation on which to build all kinds of narratives: for example, the story of one writer’s career, told chronologically by jumping from spot to spot; or the story of an epic battle between crews; or just the story of what it was like the night a certain piece got painted.

This is something we’ve always intended for the site, but it’s not a simple task and we haven’t had time to do a proper job of it. In the meantime, various threads of narrative are spinning into existence over in our Flickr group. I hope some day soon we can weave it all together.

50 years of empty tunnels

June 17, 2005 on 12:00 am | In global news | Comments Off on 50 years of empty tunnels

Trainspotters take note! Tomorrow, June 18th, marks the 50th anniversary of the abandonment of the Pacific Electric Subway in Los Angeles. This evening at 7:30, the Electric Railway Historical Association’s monthly meeting will commemorate the anniversary with videos from their archive. For more information, see the ERHA website.

The closing of the subway had many negative implications for the city of Los Angeles. But the silver lining was that it provided some amazing empty tunnels in which to film scenes for TV and movies, and of course, paint graffiti. One of those is the famous Belmont tunnel, featured on our site. To read more about the Belmont tunnel and the area around it, see Save Belmont Art Park.

Graffiti Analysis by fi5e

June 1, 2005 on 11:54 pm | In global news | Comments Off on Graffiti Analysis by fi5e

I just need to make a plug for fi5e, a student at Parsons School of Design in NYC who’s doing some brilliant graffiti-related geekwork.

His Graffiti Taxonomy project does with graf what Douglas Hofstadter did with typography in Metamagical Themas, and what Bernd and Hilla Becker did with coal tipples and water towers in Typologies. Small multiples rock my world. (Coincidentally, Adam Greenfield has been tracking one of his posters as it disintegrates over time. Here’s a detail of the same poster from fi5e’s blog.)

In fi5e’s most recent and ambitious project, Graffiti Analysis, he tracks a writer’s movements in 3D using a kind of light pen, manipulates the data, makes crazy videos out of them, and projects them onto walls and monuments. I think he’s just scratching the surface as far as what could be done with that data. But the videos have a tight esthetic quality about them that I like for its own sake. Check out his blog for more details and lots of moving pictures.

Hats off to you, fi5e! (And thanks, Mike, for the latest links.)

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