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Art Attack When Roaming the Streets - Part 1 31 December 2008

I like roaming cities and urban areas. Especially areas that are devoid of people. For some reason these areas are pockets of rebellion. Nobody by circumventers and appropriators operate here. What I like in these empty areas are the fragments of what people have left behind.

There is not City Planning Strategy in operation here but human endevour. It is very liberating to watch. It makes the urban space much less sterile and much less sanitised. Sometimes I try and imagine the faces of the people while they are working. I actually like the idea that mysterious forces have created the Murals rather than the concept that people probably saw they working on their peices.

William Gibson once say: "The Street find its own uses for Technology" - I think street art is very much the embodiment of this. Here people have found their own use for the urban landscape of brick and cement as a canvas to illustrate what meaning they gather from the world around them.

The street canvas was never design with art in mind. Most of the time urban architecture is embodied with its own function and aestic. The interesting part is when users appropriate this environment for their own personal use. This usually means some that is in stark contrast to the intention of the original designer.

No longer is the intention of the designer the focus of the user. It is the urban landscape itself that suddenly springs to life from user interaction. The similarity with digital technology with regards to appropriation and adaptation is prehaps not that hard to imagine.

With digital technology the user have access to a toolset and can manipulate the digital environment as they see fit. The interaction with the environment empowers the users to manipulate it to his or her own imagination.

The interaction might not have been what the designer intented and this is the point of appropriation. In terms of the urban environment the appropriation can at times be labelled illegal by the authorities since property laws differ from one urban environment to the next. Under these circumstances the appropriation becomes misuse. But the difference between misuse and appropriation is a legal and moral judgement.

User Generated Art in the urban space is more than appropriation and misuse. It is also a reclaiming of urban space on behalf of the public. With the expansion of semi-public spaces such as shopping malls, parking lots and the semi-privatisaion of parks and pavements the original concept of public space is very much endangered.

The ability to control this environment is part of what is facinating about street art.

The creating of public space was in part to create environments where the public could gather and create communities. Many times under the guise of crime and disorder these areas have been sanitised from their original role as gathering places for the public. When speaking of original roles it must be noted that the urban environemnt and its uses are in constant flux so the concept of original is of course fluid.

In between the appropriation of urban space and reclaiming of the public space is where the nexus of street art connects with people. Maybe we wouldn't want it on our door steps by ut will always arose feelings in us because it emergences in areas of the urban landscape where there is a struggle between elements for control. That can be the artist, the city planners, the cops or the house owner.



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