Graffiti is a staple of urban Americana. It’s a sign of social consciousness in cement wastelands and a commentary on the stratification of the inner city. The iconic rattle of the can and the spray of the aerosol are all that’s needed to evoke the vandal-auteur. However, the can of spray paint is not the only way to tag a wall. Below are two videos of “reverse graffiti.” Instead of adding paint to a wall to create their art, both graffiti artists remove elements from their environmental canvases to create intrinsically situational art.
Artist Alexandre Orion is an urban guerrilla critic, commenting on the cosmopolitan lifestyle by making art in its ashen wake. Working in São Paulo, Brazil, Orion created this piece of art, called “Ossario Urban Intervention,” by cleaning the soot off select parts of an underpass. “In his aesthetic pursuit, he scrapes the soot of our subdued urban consciousness from the walls…In the darkness of the soot of lack of civic awareness, his work is esthetically sophisticated and a fine manifesto,” says José de Souza Martins, professor of sociology at the Universidade de São Paulo.
Rocketboom’s field reports and casual Fridays continue to impress and amuse me. Teaming up with the Graffiti Research Lab and the Anti-Advertising Agency, the Rocketboom crew took to the streets to re-purpose those annoying big screen TVs popping up all over eye-level New York. Inspired by Jo Lee’s Abstractor TV, the video questions the ubiquity of the screen in our homes, coffee shops, gyms, highways, bus stops, train stations, and checkout lines.
Pulling these two stories together is São Paulo’s decision to ban billboards, neon signs, and electronic panels. Check out the denuded city on Tony de Marco’s Flickr album. Edward Abbey’s monkey wrench gang would be proud.