Sunday, April 23, 2006
I saw an excellent documentary on TV this afternoon. It was called Rash and explored Melbourne's 'street art' scene - graffiti art, stencil art, homemade posters, all that kind of stuff. The artists have names like HaHa, Psalm, Prism, and Sync, and many of them wore masks while they were being interviewed since their art is technically illegal.
Apparently Melbourne is one of the world's leading cities for street art and street artists from interstate as well as from all over the world visit the city (often even moving there) especially for this reason.
Because of its illegal status, the people who create this art mostly do it at night time and they have to be ready to get the hell out of there fast if police or security guards spot them.
When you think of graffiti art, you might think of small, ugly, incomprehensible signatures kids write on walls or the sides of trains, but the stuff in this documentary was nothing like that. Most of it was very creative and appealing, at least to me, but obviously to many other people who would no doubt rather see that kind of stuff in the street than yet another advertisement for a car or a hamburger or a pair of shoes.
Besides more traditional forms of street art like that created on the spot with spraycans, there are more recent developments like stencil art and posters. The doco showed these street artists cutting out very fiddly-looking stencils, and some of them are created in such a way that there are four or five layers of colour. Amazing stuff. Also, posters are created at home along with buckets of homemade glue which they take out late at night and quickly paste up on the sides of buildings.
It was revealed that most people who are against this street art are the people who own a building that this stuff appears on. In second place, of people who don't like it, are some people who walk by and see it. Maybe those people would rather look at advertisements for cars or hamburgers or shoes.
I'm trying to understand how people can be against this stuff when our cities are being increasingly saturated with advertising. Do you want to know how ridiculous it has gotten? You probably know already. But since about three years ago, in Sydney, there have been these mechanical ad boxes right on the footpath, right there at eye level. And it's not enough that you see one ad, these boxes have a mechanism inside that rolls two ads back and forth behind a perspex window. Each ad is visible for a few seconds before it rolls up or down and you see the other stupid ad. Advertising agencies are always finding more and more ways to put these dumb ads in front of our tormented eyeballs all the time, and there are people against 'street art'?
Anyway, the documentary was excellent, and inspired me so much that I decided that it would be a great idea to, from now on, take photos of this stuff when I see it here in Sydney. I have seen some of it, like that stencil stuff, but now I want to take photos of it and put them up here on my blog. Will I really do it? Probably not. But this doco made me want to.
Image taken from Psalm website.