Street-art (or if you prefer, graffiti), in its various forms and manifold designs, is one of the most ubiquitous sources of visual culture in the contemporary urban metropolis. .... Streetartists will go to extreme, often life-threatening extents to produce their ‘art’; council authorities will likewise spend vast amounts of funds and time in order to remove and completely eradicate the ‘vandalism’. There is seemingly no middle ground.
Walker talks of ‘distributed narratives’, of stories that aren’t self-contained. She explains that ‘they can’t be experienced in a single session or in a single space. They’re stories that cross over into our daily lives, becoming as ubiquitous as the network that fosters them.’ (Walker, 2004:1).
When street art passes from the street to the Internet, boundaries are challenged; narratives pass through on and offline spaces, being carried through objects, words and images in complex ways . This process helps us to traverse spaces, engage with others and collaborate over text making and meaning.
culture as a world laced with meanings from the past
reconfiguring the space
It is the tangle of physicality and symbolism, the sedimentation of various histories, the mingling of imagining and experience that constitute the urban . ...... The city as jungle, as labyrinth, body, network, unconscious, crimescene, phantasmagoria and so on are not just literary devices, they constitute part of the material out of which we experience the urban. And they have a history. (Highmore, 2005 : 5)
Streetart constitutes the city .... a particular version of the city... a narrative that runs through, across and between cities, .... an unofficial narrative, challenging preferred readings of what the space is for, as well as who it serves ....
street art challenges what is private and what is public space....
..and sometimes these narratives and challenges go unobserved ....
The urban space of the street is a place for talk, given over as much to the exchange of words and signs as it is to the exchange of things. A place where speech becomes writing. A place where speech can become ‘savage’ and, by escaping rules and institutions, inscribe itself on walls. Lefebrve
Streetart is ubiquitous; multimodal in its form it covers environmental surfaces worldwide. Streetart impacts variously upon urban settings but is now being reincarnated in digital online spaces , acquiring new meanings in these new contexts. On the street, this work fades, corrodes, is erased or even celebrated by city custodians. The relocation of streetart to online spaces showcases such evolutionary processes of decay or vandalism; but digital images also breathe new meanings into the art, captured both within the online space but also impacting back to the art as it lives on in the streets. I discuss how new technologies affect streetart and streetartists and how online social-networking affords new possibilities for narrative within it. Taking Walker's notion of 'distributed narratives' and the concept of provenance I elucidate a new way of understanding street art as narrative distributed across spaces and time, in many modes and by many authors.