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.

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!

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.

aaaaaand, we’re back!

October 22, 2011 on 7:09 am | In site updates | Comments Off on aaaaaand, we’re back!

After ten years of running without a hitch, this site hit some major stumbles in the past 18 months. First the database went down, then the entire server. Fortunately now everything is up and running again, hopefully more smoothly than ever.

Also note our new permanent address: (no longer a subdirectory of!)

more new layers: bluxome

October 16, 2008 on 10:49 pm | In site updates | Comments Off on more new layers: bluxome

Shown here: bluxome/eastA layer 14, October 5, 2008; piece by CHEZ.

Right next to Apex’s new piece is another huge, intensely detailed burner by CHEZ. Once again I was lucky enough to capture several stages of the work in progress to share with you here. Chez’s way of working with color here is something I haven’t seen before: overlaying a white-on-black backlayer with transparent colors for the fill. Check it out!

new layers: Bluxome

October 11, 2008 on 9:57 pm | In site updates | Comments Off on new layers: Bluxome


Apex has just finished an incredibly ambitious piece in the center of the Bluxome wall back here in San Francisco. It’s a third of a block long, and he used over five hundred different colors of paint to create it. It took him almost three months to finish, so I was able to catch several stages of the work in progress. I particularly enjoyed seeing the layering of color on color for the fill, and how he used the blank parts of the wall as a sketchbook for trying out different ideas. Check it out.

new layers: Undercroft

May 31, 2008 on 4:25 pm | In site updates | Comments Off on new layers: Undercroft

The permissions continue to roll in for photos of London’s Undercroft. This week three more people have filled in some gaps in the timeline by contributing their photos: Dancing Fish, Patrick John Quinn, and Hatters! This brings the total depth up to 32 layers for panel2, and 25 layers for panel3, spanning a period of almost two years. Thank you all!

More layers and more walls to come. Stay tuned.

new wall: undercroft/panel2

May 20, 2008 on 8:55 pm | In site updates | Comments Off on new wall: undercroft/panel2

Shown here: undercroft/panel2 layer 27 of 28, May 3 2008. Photo by meophamman.

The great jigsaw puzzle of London’s amazing Undercroft skatepark continues to occupy many of my hours these days, thanks to the incredible wealth of photos available on Flickr, and the generosity of all the photographers who have allowed us to reuse them here. This week’s offering: 28 layers on the new wall “panel2”, plus an additional four on “panel3”. (Don’t ask about the numbering scheme—it makes sense to me, but it’s completely arbitrary.) The list of contributing photographers here is almost as long as the wall itself: Pierre Andrews, bryans_d80, Paul Carstairs, Jason Delport, Matthew Gidley, Michael Godek, Samuel Judge, Amit Kanekal, Will King, Leeks, meophamman, RedLeeroy, Roberta (retrotravelbug), Romanywg, and thirtyfootscrew. And that’s just the people who responded within the first 48 hours of my request for permission! There are many others out there, and I’ll continue to post their contributions as the permissions come in.

new location: the Undercroft

May 10, 2008 on 5:07 pm | In site updates | Comments Off on new location: the Undercroft

Shown here: undercroft/panel3 layer 14 of 17, featuring work by BLAM and BONZAI, January 13 2008. Photo by Leeks.

Today Graffiti Archaeology finally leaves the confines of North America with our first international location! “The Undercroft” is a skate park located under the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s Southbank. It gets its name from the vaulted spaces under cathedrals, to which it bears a strong resemblance thanks to a series of flared columns that run through it. The spot is frequented by skateboarders, BMX bikers, the occasional unicyclist, and of course, graffiti writers. The wall shown above is just one of about a dozen panels that surround the space. I’ll be building out timelapse montages of the rest of the walls as time allows. Many thanks to Flickr users Jason Delport, Uli Rahms, CourtneyLouise, jessthecat and Leeks for their photo contributions.

See our Flickr group for more photos of this amazing space.

Apparently there is some danger that this cultural hotspot and meeting place may be shut down or made inaccessible to the public in the near future. If you live in the UK and are eligible to vote, there’s a petition you can sign to appeal for its preservation.

Improving the UI

May 10, 2008 on 12:55 pm | In site updates | Comments Off on Improving the UI


I gave an informal talk about Graffiti Archaeology at Stanford the other day, and the questions from the audience reminded me of some of the limitations of our current Flash interface. For one thing, the list of walls has gotten so long that it bleeds off the bottom of most people’s monitors. Also, there’s a lot of information tucked away in our XML data structure that we could be making better use of at the UI level. As a first baby-step in that direction, I added a new tooltip that appears when you hover over a location, telling you how many walls and layers that location has. (This also gave me an excuse to start cleaning up some of our messy old code. Geek joy!)

More improvements to come, as time allows…

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