Graffiti Machine – Tribute to NYC

By - Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Whilst Street-Art can be said to be continuing along its stratospheric climb to full acceptance, the ‘Tag’ still remains a symbol of hatred for a lot of people. This act of putting oneself repeatedly out into the public domain without the perceived acceptance of your aesthetic by others is still seen as subversive, its raw humanism maligned. 

But what is most beautiful in Tags, for those who know, is that very human essence of it. The way you can deduce a writers technical ability, style and priorities from a simple one colour marking still remains one of our greatest achievements as an art form, a good tag represents an entire personality. But what would happen if you removed that life behind the Tag and instead calibrated a machine to enact years of practice in equally as much time as it takes a writer to execute it? This what the ‘Graffiti Machine’ does. And I’d be wrong if I said it wasn’t slightly unnerving to watch. 

The video above displays a machine made out of recycled materials including (“wood, skateboard wheels, DIY meters”) recreating a selection of the most legendary NYC writers handstyles, to near perfection. It coincides with it’s first exhibition entitled ‘A Nous York’ which runs in Lille from October 2014 to January 2015 and includes tags by Pear, Guns, Taki 183, Easy & Bonus.

The end shot shows a writer producing a Tag whilst the machine mirrors him in almost perfect unity, and whilst there is something bizarre about the act it’s a fascinating example of technology encroaching on something very distinctly human. Tags are a direct outcome of momentary expression and the way the machine jerks and slides about whilst simultaneously producing near perfect copies of handstyles is somewhat hypnotic, despite feeling like it’s undermining every writer it copies. 

Personally i’d love to see this in an illegal context and watch the publics reaction to Tags created by it. Would those Tags be held up as objects in themselves separate from the human influence? Does this previous vandalism then become Street-Art? or Conceptual Art? and if so what would it mean for actual human writers? 

What do you think? An example of the beauty of the technology? or the weird intersection of man & machine. 

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