anti-graffiti and urban scars

The notion that a graffiti artist allows the space within which it is contained to define the scale and form of their letters is easily identifiable in the practice of many artists. The limits of space and the limits of their bodies are often cited in texts as these are typically art history constructs which allow academics to place graffiti neatly into some skewed western tradition, thus increase its acceptance as an art form as one which may be part of a contemporary discourse. Scouring the early entries od Momo’s blog led to an introduction to Fred Radtke, who seems to have considerable notoriety in the US as a vigilante graffiti remover. Unsanctioned, but tolerated, Radtke will answer calls from the public and paint over graffiti using his trademark grey paint, he is commonly referred to as the Grey Ghost. He is not consistent in his chosen tone of grey and an extended ‘dialogue’ on the same wall over several months between Radtke and his opponents can result in some interesting abstract compositions. The irony that exists here is that Radtke does not distinguish between illegal and legal graffiti and has landed himself with a $20,000 fine after controversially painting over an officially sanctioned ‘artwork’ by UK pretender Banksy. The ‘pieces’ themselves have a minor discourse with urban space, the morals and politics surrounding the activity are impassioned, but incidental to the accidental emergence of anti-art-art.

re_map does not condone the work of Banksy in any way shape or form.

Images are from various Flickr accounts.

Abstract Motion No.1

Abstract Motion No.2

The solution, the problem, neither or both?

isolative urbanism: an ecology of control

Image by Will Riley exploring notion of BAE Systems as local authority

Friday 9th October 2009 saw the official book launch of Isolative Urbanism: an ecology of control, co-edited by Richard Brook and Nick Dunn. The book is the first published research output from the [Re_Map] unit and the essays collected together are concerned with the relationship between urban conditions and space, public and private. In particular, the book has a primary focus on how the ownership of space is demarcated, enclosed, implied and enforced. This situation is heightened and accentuated in the context of a town with a singular economic force, particularly when said force is the manufacturer of military hardware. As the essays establish a general view of their focus, they also make explicit the manner in which their area of study may be considered in the context of Barrow in Furness.

Increasingly the design of (public) space is concerned with the control of that space, its visual permeability, its surveillance and the capacity for crowd control. It is the proximity of digital and real space that is testing these realities and challenging the convention of behavioural patterns. The question of what constitutes community, networked and residual space is of concern here as are devices of appropriation, enclosure, severance, fragmentation, and cultural identification of space. With this in mind, the essays gathered here seek to address the various mechanisms of control within contemporary urban conditions in relation to three key areas of discourse: Policy, Utopia and Globalisation.

Reactive policy development, that attempts to define spatial configurations and legislate for functions within designated systems, is instrumental in the negotiation of boundaries between physical and socio-economic territories. The first section of this book therefore concerns itself with the future development of policy, typically establishing a framework within which the extremities of political governance can be tested in relation to various scenarios. The question of what may constitute the future of urbanism is often inseparable from the concept of utopia, against which the radical reorganisations of extant conditions are investigated and evaluated. This builds upon a basis of policy and as such the second section of this book relates to research wherein the focus is to apply idealised regulatory systems to analyse emergent or enhanced strategies for urban space. Beyond these immediate contextual relationships are the connections to a wider environment whether physical, economic or social. It is the identification of potentially lucrative integration with a globalised market, and the corresponding repositioning of Barrow-in-Furness in relation to this, that underpins the third and final section of the book. The generation and adaptation of new and existing industries that may assure the future of the town is developed through a range of research methods and synthesised to address the problems of isolative urbanism.

debranding the city

During a recent research trip to New York the authors were made aware of a project which sought to reclaim some of the visual public domain. On 25 April 2009, 30 participants whitewashed nearly 120 street level billboards in broad daylight. These were subsequently used as blank canvases for artists and members of the public to produce public rather than corporate messages. In total the advertisements covered approximately 29,450 square feet of the public environment.  The map below illustrates the  illegal or unpermitted NPA City Outdoor locations located in Lower Manhattan. The question of what constitutes spatial demarcation and legal activity is further raised by this type of intervention.

These are the results:
-Yellow locations were were not a part of this project
-Blue dots indicate locations that were painted white
-Red dots indicate locations that recieved artwork

More images of the individual works can be found here.