Skip to main content

Street Art, Graffiti or Something Else?

I recently got a chance to see Exit Through the Gift Shop - a pretty solid film, as far as documentaries go. The first half is mostly about the street art movement that’s taking place around the world. The second half is mostly about Thierry Guetta, a man who originally obsessively videotaped street artists doing their work, and later became a contemporary artist himself. That’s really all I’m going to say about the film, so don’t worry, there are no spoilers below.

(from wallyg on Flickr)

Even hough it’s not really covered in the film, I kept thinking about the impact that graffiti and street art have on cities and urbanism and urban design. Is it good? Is it bad? Is the term "street art" too broad to really mean anything at all?

Street art comes in many different forms, from the typical spray-paint on a wall, to the more recently popular gluing a large illustration on something, to more 3-dimensional, like the pop-up characters made from old plastic bags installed on the tops of subway grates.

The broken windows theory takes a pretty hard stance against any type of graffiti. The belief holds that when a place becomes covered in graffiti or garbage or is otherwise neglected, it doesn’t look like a place that anybody cares about. Criminals will feel comfortable in these places, because they don’t think that anyone has a vested interest in protecting them.

So the question is: does street art breed crime? Is it a harm to society?

A lot of smart people believe that the cornerstone of the turnaround in New York City can be attributed to cleaning up graffiti on the streets, on the subway and in other public places. By making public spaces look like somebody cares about them, the city was telling criminals that they weren't welcome. Safer streets brought more affluence, which in turn made the streets even safer until eventually we have what is Manhattan today.

At the same time, some of today’s street art really is quite interesting. And it's definitely possible for a place to become "too pristine" and have no character. Nobody wants to live in or visit a neighborhood that's outright dangerous, but there's still an appeal to places that feel gritty or edgy. Street art, by itself, seems harmless. Knowing whether that's actually true is a lot harder.

Comments

austin said…
Doesn't matter if graffiti breeds crime, it is crime.

If you draw something on someone's property, not matter how beautiful or intelligent someone may think it is, it is vandalism.

Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Good Advertising

The blogosphere seems to be one fire over Microsoft's new "Lauren" TV commercial. Frankly, I don't see what the commotion is about.



If the critics are correct, then "Lauren" is actually Lauren De Long, a Screen Actors Guild eligible actress; and apparently, if you look close enough, she never even enters the Apple store.

Even if all of that is true, it doesn't refute the fact that Apple's laptops are significantly more expensive than most PCs. It isn't a lie that Apple doesn't sell any 17-inch laptops for less than a grand. The advertisement doesn't make any reference to the quality of the machines (or contest any of the claims made in Apple's "I'm a PC" commercials) or provide any good reason to buy one other than price.

As far as I can tell, after years of horrible commercials and a series of flops, Microsoft seems to finally have hired an ad agency that put together a decent advertisement. It's not likely to persuad…