Designing minds: Making a mark
April 10, 2014
Graffiti, the scourge of urban development, it turns out, is a condition of human life. The drive to inform the world of your existence is older than history. Starting with the cave paintings at Lescaux, bits and pieces of ancient graffiti adorn the most remarkable places. Two thousand year old Latin is scratched into walls of the catacombs in Rome. Names are carved onto the coronation throne in Westminster Abbey. I recently discovered the note Mommy love Daddy carved into the altar in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Reims, France.
I don’t particularly like graffiti mucking up walls and cities, but ultimately it is inevitable and with the acceptance of that idea comes a grudging respect and sometimes, actual appreciation. I wouldn’t like to see it all over the place, but from time to time, in the right place and with the right animus it becomes a flourish, like a few wild poppies punctuating a drab landscape in the spring.
When it’s done well, clever, in the spirit of the transitory, when it represents wild imagination or pure happiness, it can be moving, interesting or even beautiful. It is a kind of freedom of expression. A means of saying “I am here.” The ephemeral nature of it is appealing. Artists and/or taggers and tourists express themselves knowing that their work, if you can call it that, will most likely be gone soon. Or not.