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Performing Graffiti: The Use of Electronically and Digitally Modified Graffiti in Activist Art Practices


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/13110

Performing Graffiti: The Use of Electronically and Digitally Modified Graffiti in Activist Art Practices

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Title: Performing Graffiti: The Use of Electronically and Digitally Modified Graffiti in Activist Art Practices
Author: Schultz, Megan
Advisor(s): Anderson-Riedel, Susanne
Committee Member(s): Zuromskis, Catherine
Montgomery, Lee
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of Art and Art History
Subject: graffiti
Robotics in art
LC Subject(s): Lasers in art
Projection art
Art and the internet
Art--Interactive multimedia
Degree Level: Masters
Abstract: The role of the artist has expanded. Artworks increasingly occupy spaces not traditionally allocated for artistic practice. The materials and methods used for creative expression, along with the use of new spaces for the production, exhibition, and distribution of artistic activity work together to break down previous notions of the function of art. An example of a new mode for art practice may be seen in an increased use of technology by artists. Although artists have addressed technology and mechanization as subjects of their work since at least the Industrial Revolution, new artworks employ technology not only as a theme within their practice, but take advantage of technology increasingly ubiquitous presence. Digital and mechanical materials are incorporated into works that seek to encourage audience participation and promote community oriented interaction. Likewise, scientists and engineers are increasingly employing design strategies in the display and organization of data and in the construction of engaging models and mockups. An increasing number of artist are including technology within their artistic practice to address larger social and political issues, using technology as both a material and a symbol. This paper seeks to illustrate these new trends in art-making, focusing on works that meld graffiti with electronic and digital media as a means to initiate public interaction. The specific projects discussed, “Laser Tag,” by the Graffiti Research Lab, “Graffiti Writer,” by the Institute for Applied Autonomy, and “Grafedia,” by John Geraci, all uniquely combine graffiti and technology in works aimed at facilitating the artists’ social activist goals. Each project provides an example of artists and collectives working within the tradition of political art but by means of new methods and a variety of mediums. Laser Tag’s use of laser and projection technology, Graffiti Writer’s robotics, and Grafedia’s employment of the Internet illustrate the variety of methods explored in this form of art activism. These artists use graffiti and electronic and digital technologies both as materials and symbols of the powerful and the powerless to critique institutional, corporate, and governmental control. Due to the transformation of graffiti and technology, combined with an interest in initiating interaction as a means for social activism, the works discussed inhabit a unique realm that is not wholly dictated by art, technology, or activist practices, but rather they occupy a space that is an amalgamation of these distinct areas akin to performance art.
Graduation Date: July 2011
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/13110

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