Sunday, August 12, 2007

Planet Krylon

Let's travel far into the outer reaches of the galaxy. Envision a planet much like our own in many way except for the fact that the people of that planet hold dear the belief in free public expression and it would almost never occur to anyone to restrict such expression. This is planet Krylon, where everyone communicates through graffiti. Oh sure the people can talk and sign and write blocks of text, but they find these modes of communication primitive and limited. They feel free to illustrate all their ideas instead. Whereas , here on Earth we communicate primarily by sending sound through ever ubiquitous atmospheric gases, on Krylon they use whatever surface is available to them to spontaneously paint their ideas. And there is always surface availble.

Be warned, young traveller! Such an illustrious world is no dreamland of artists. Where there is art, there is deception. An Earthling would have a tough time navigating Krylon. Besides the intense visual clutter the perpetually surrounds you, there are those that persistently try to confuse other. For example on any corner there might be ten seemingly identical street signs all with different names. The true sign may have the ability to repel any type of surface pigment or obstruction, but there are no laws banning public sculpture of any kind. The residents of course evolved into very discerning folks indeed and can immediately spot the prevelant knockoffs of anything.

But what of professional artists on this planet. If everyone paints and sculpts constantly is there any place for art for art's sake? "Well", an inhabitant might reply (in coloring of course), "don't you have gifted orators, actors, writers, and poets that transcend the normal use you your own common medium?" Truly, not everyone on Krylon is gifted, but everyone does draw. They just don't stop at grade school. On Krylon chiildren are raised to be articulate in all media.

Ok, and that's when i got tired of writing. About halfway through I just started making it up on the fly, as opposed to the first half of the piece, which were ideas bottled up in my head for over an hour waiting to be solidified. Open to suggestions as to how to end this. See any typos? I'm sure it's chock full. Where are my grammar-maniacs!

Graffiti: What’s it for?

I just saw a couple short documentaries on graffiti. In both artists were posed with questions of why they do it and whether it should be/is legal. They almsot uniiversally cited graffiti as a form of expression that benefits themselves and the onlooker (AKA everyone). To the second question almost none of them questioned the illegality of the act. "it should be illegal. I mean we're putting posters on other people's shit [paraphrase]," commented one unidentified artist. While some even reveled in its status for the thrill-factor. Somehow, these two ideas seem incongruous to me.If this public art is so rewarding to the artists and the community then why should it be illegal, and why not do it through legal channels (as none of the artist did for a majority of their work)?

I think the fundamental aspect of graffiti's allure is as a form of protest. By purposefully breaking the law your action becomes a protest of that law. Most people only do things they personally believe should be allowed. Vandalism of corporate advertisements, especially corporate-sponsored graffiti, in a way rejects the notion that public visual space can only be sold to the highest bitter. It's a statement that the public space belongs to the public at large, not just dollar-powered private entities.

Graffiti culture asserts that evolution of the public space in the new millennium shall operate by survival of the most creative rather survival of the richest. Why should we bow to the elite who write anti-graffiti laws to protects the advertising interests? I say that all public visual art should be legal, and that if people don't want the public facades of their property reface should make that surface so visually enjoyable that no one would feel the need to cover it.