What Qualifies as Street Art?
Justin Kamp, for artsy.net
Jan 11, 2021 12:43pm
photo: An early 2000s Swoon paste-up on a San Francisco public wall
The ascent of so-called street artists into the moneyed realms of the blue chip is not exactly a new phenomenon—it’s been nearly two years since KAWS skyrocketed to a new auction record of HK$116 million (US$14.8 million) with the sale of The Kaws Album (2005) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, which was followed six months later by the record-breaking sale of Banksy’s Devolved Parliament (2009) for £9.8 million ($12.1 million). These two mononym artists could be seen as the loosely defined category’s twin princes, despite their stylistic differences—KAWS’s vibrant cartoon riffs and Banksy’s wry stencils are two of the most easily recognizable, not to mention consistently lucrative, styles in contemporary art. But as collectors the world over continue to be fascinated with “Companion” figures and Girl With Balloon prints, the exact parameters of what constitutes “street art” remain nebulous.
According to Charlotte Raybaud, head of 20th-century evening sales at Phillips in Hong Kong, the category comes with a certain amount of ambiguity baked in. “Street art is inherently hard to define,” Raybaud said. “It is difficult to categorize as sometimes it can feature graffiti, or other times more image-based work. The former oftentimes features alongside the latter, but I would say some uniting elements include the use of stencils and/or elements of reproduction, allusions to and questioning of everyday visuals or slogans, and of course its ‘street’ setting—or indeed proximity to its roots.” When highlighting street art works for potential bidders, Raybaud said she emphasizes both the above aesthetic elements as well as a piece’s conceptual underpinnings, which she said often center on themes of democratization.
What Qualifies as Street Art?
Medieval Graffiti to Repel Witches and Evil Spirits Found In Britain
21 OCTOBER, 2020 - 17:52 ED WHELAN
In Britain, a mysterious discovery has been made in the ruins of a church in an abandoned medieval village. On some stones, archaeologists have found graffiti and some enigmatic marking. It is believed that the markings were made to ward off evil spirits or witches. This discovery is a timely one as we approach Halloween.
Currently, there is a major infrastructure project being carried out in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, England. It involves the construction of rail lines and a highway. This project will totally destroy a long-abandoned medieval village. ‘The deserted village site stands among fields half a mile south of today's Stoke Mandeville’, according to the Buckingham Archaeological Society . Archaeologists from Fusion JV are currently working to excavate as much of the village as they can.
Deserted medieval village
The focus of their work is on the ruins of the 12 th-century church of St Mary’s now little more than rubble. This was demolished many centuries ago, however, archaeologists were stunned to find beneath a heap of stones, the walls and floors of the place of worship. Andrew Harris, a manager with Fusion JV stated that ‘The levels of preservation of some of the features of the church are surprising given its age’ reports the HS2 Media Centre .
On the stones, of the demolished church they have found some graffiti. They have also discovered some curious markings. According to The Bucks Herald , ‘Two stones with a central drilled hole from which a series of lines radiate in a circle have been uncovered at the site of St Mary’s’. These engravings were of great interest to the team of archaeologists.
Witches marks or medieval graffiti?
One possibility was that the markings are medieval sundials that were used to tell the time and indicate the time for mass and prayers to the faithful. However, the engravings were found on a stone that was close to the ground. This would seem to indicate that they were not sundials.
She 'Rode That Bias Off a Cliff': Man Who Filmed SF Viral Video on Handling 'Karens'
Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez for KQED (Link to article)
Jaime Juanillo was not looking to 'out' a white woman for making racist remarks last Thursday. In other words, he wasn’t looking to catch a 'Karen.'
(That’s a term often used to describe white women, specifically, who call police to punish Black people and people of color generally while they're enjoying everyday activities — like barbecuing, running a lemonade stand or bird-watching.)
But when a woman named Lisa Alexander and her husband accused Juanillo of a crime for stenciling the words Black Lives Matter with chalk on the retaining wall outside his own home in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights, he was ready with his cellphone.
“Respectfully,” Alexander can be seen telling Juanillo in his video, “absolutely your [Black Lives Matter] signs and everything, that’s good, but this is not the way to do it. It’s private property.”
Yes it was: Juanillo’s property. But, he maintains, being a man of color, Alexander likely assumed he did not live in the expensive home they were standing in front of. She called the police.
Juanillo said in the predominantly wealthy, predominantly white Pacific Heights neighborhood, “It’s not unusual at all for me to get a look like, ‘Do you belong here?’” Juanillo, a Filipino man, has lived with his husband in Pacific Heights for 18 years where he runs a small dog walking business called Pack Heights.
The video interaction Juanillo recorded with Alexander has since gone viral, and been viewed more than 13 million times. The beauty subscription service Birchbox has cut ties with Alexander’s skincare company LAFACE, and she has since issued a public apology, saying "I should have minded my own business."
Rare Form of Miniature Stenciled Rock Art Found in Australia
New research suggests the small-scale illustrations may have been made with beeswax
By Alex Fox
MAY 27, 2020
In 2017, researchers surveying the Yilbilinji rock shelter in northern Australia’s Limmen National Park discovered rare examples of miniature stenciled rock art. Now, a new study published in the journal Antiquity may unravel the secrets of these mysterious artworks’ creation. [Interestingly, in the new study, the researchers did not date the pigment to see when the miniature stencils were made. The only mention of dates is with the use of beeswax, as far back as the 1800s. - Stencil Archive]
Australia’s Aboriginal culture is renowned for its diverse rock art, which dates back thousands of years and includes an array of stenciled renderings. Such works were created by holding an object against a rock’s surface and spraying it with pigment to render its silhouette in negative space. Stenciled art often features life-size human body parts, animals, plants and objects like boomerangs, according to a statement.
Small-scale stencils posed an obvious logistical hurdle for ancient artists, as the tools had to be purpose-built for the artwork rather than drawn from an existing slate of objects.
“What makes these stencils at Yilbilinji so unique is that they are tiny, some measuring only centimeters across, and they are too small to have been made using body parts or full-sized objects,” lead author Liam Brady, an archaeologist at Flinders University, tells Henry Zwartz of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
The trove is one of just three examples of miniature stenciled rock art identified to date. Per the statement, the other surviving specimens are found at Nielson’s Creek in Australia and Kisar Island in Indonesia.
Just Another Day on Aerosol Earth
(hi-res image here: NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day)
Model Visualization Credit: NASA Earth Observatory, GEOS FP, Joshua Stevens
It was just another day on aerosol Earth. For August 23, 2018, the identification and distribution of aerosols in the Earth's atmosphere is shown in this dramatic, planet-wide digital visualization. Produced in real time, the Goddard Earth Observing System Forward Processing (GEOS FP) model relies on a combination of Earth-observing satellite and ground-based data to calculate the presence of types of aerosols, tiny solid particles and liquid droplets, as they circulate above the entire planet. This August 23rd model shows black carbon particles in red from combustion processes, like smoke from the fires in the United States and Canada, spreading across large stretches of North America and Africa. Sea salt aerosols are in blue, swirling above threatening typhoons near South Korea and Japan, and the hurricane looming near Hawaii. Dust shown in purple hues is blowing over African and Asian deserts. The location of cities and towns can be found from the concentrations of lights based on satellite image data of the Earth at night.
NASA's Earth Observatory has a page on aerosols, showing optical depth. They have a mov file showing optical depth from 2000 to 2020, with select and compare options. According to the site, "tiny solid and liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere are called aerosols. Windblown dust, sea salts, volcanic ash, smoke from wildfires, and pollution from factories are all examples of aerosols. Depending upon their size, type, and location, aerosols can either cool the surface, or warm it. They can help clouds to form, or they can inhibit cloud formation. And if inhaled, some aerosols can be harmful to people's health."
The Writings on the City’s Walls: Street Art and Graffiti in Santiago, Chile in a Time of Social Revolution
FEBRUARY 17, 2020
Reporting: Street Art NYC (LINK)
The following post is by Houda Lazrak:
While visiting Santiago, Chile in late December, I sat down with Santiago-based architect and street art/graffiti expert Sebastián Cuevas Vergara. We met a few blocks from one of Santiago’s main urban landmarks, Plaza Baquedano, now known as Plaza de la Dignidad or Dignity Square — the main site of Chile’s protests against social inequality that erupted last October following a hike in subway fares.
Every Friday afternoon, thousands gather in Plaza de la Dignidad to express their frustration with the high cost of living, rising rents, government corruption and an unsustainable social welfare system. The walls in the vicinity are plastered with protest posters, tags, graffiti, wheatpastes and other varied urban interventions.
Sebastián shared some of his thoughts and observations about the current state of public space in Santiago:
So much has changed here since I last visited Chile in 2013. What are you up to at the moment?
I am currently teaching a street art class at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Chile. This a particularly pertinent moment to be talking about people’s relation to public space in view of all the street art that has surfaced since the social crisis started.
Yes, it does seem extremely relevant.
I have a thesis: Santiago is the city with the most diverse graffiti in the world at the moment. There is poetic graffiti, urban graffiti, feminist graffiti, political graffiti…
And so many posters too!
The languages of the streets are changing. When the protests started, designers started making posters: a simple, straightforward, immediate response. Posters and graphics have been part of Chilean identity since the 1970s, so this was quickly picked up again.
Is this happening mainly in the city center?
It is concentrated in the center of the city. This is where it has the most significance, near ‘zona cero’ where the protests surface every Friday.
How have the graffiti and street art changed in Santiago since the social revolution erupted?
There are several changes. First, many artists are no longer signing their works. The personal nature of graffiti is not of essence now. Artists are, instead, giving their art to the movement. This is particularly interesting, because the graffiti scene in Santiago is very competitive. Second, works are much larger in scale because artists are collaborating. Third, performance art is integrated into the protests and with the graffiti and street art. Finally, feminist street art is now at the forefront. The work of groups like the Chilean feminist collective LASTESIS has gone viral.
The fraught business of removing and selling street art murals
Published on CNN, 20th January 2020 (LINK)
Written by Christy Kuesel
This article was published in partnership with Artsy, the global platform for discovering and collecting art. The original article can be seen here.
Banksy is well known for creating murals in the dead of night, frequently addressing social ills like homelessness or poverty. Tourists and fans gather around each of his new creations, often spurred to the site by a post on the anonymous artist's Instagram account. So the idea of removing one of these works from public view and selling it is bound to stir up strong emotions.
"It's against the street art world for items that are done in public to be sold," said Darren Julien, founder and CEO of Julien's Auctions, which specializes in selling pop culture-related items and street art.
Many businesses tagged by a famous street artist may not want the attention, or would rather take the financial windfall that could result from selling the work. The owner of a Valero gas station in Los Angeles certainly benefited from Banksy's creation of "Flower Girl" (2008) on their wall. The work depicts a girl with a basket of flowers staring up into a security camera, and was created late one night in 2008.
Another street artist, Mr. Brainwash, asked the gas station owner if his friend could stencil something on the side of the wall. The work later appeared on Banksy's website. When the owner of the gas station decided to sell the property, he looked into ways to save the mural.
How Julien's Auctions actually got a nearly 8,000-pound hunk of concrete to auction, however, is a bit more complicated. The auction house advanced the seller the $80,000 removal cost, and a construction crew came in and removed the section of wall on which the mural was painted. The 2013 sale of "Flower Girl," which brought in $209,000, was one of the first times the street artist's work had been auctioned in the US.
Sales of street art murals in general are divisive. Artists often object to the transformation of a work they created for public enjoyment into an art object to be bought and sold. Although Julien acknowledged the controversy around selling Banksy murals, he argued, "The other side of it is that [auctions are] really what made them famous."
Tiny particles floating in the atmosphere have a much bigger impact on the planet than you might think, and human activity plays a role.
BY ALEJANDRA BORUNDA for National Geographic
THE MOST VIBRANT sunsets, cloud-choked skies, and cough-inducing days all have something in common: They happen because of aerosols, tiny particles that float in the air. Aerosols can be tiny droplets, dust particles, bits of fine black carbon, and other things, and as they float through the atmosphere they change the whole energy balance of the planet.
Aerosols have an outsized effect on the planet’s climate. Some of them, like black and brown carbon, warm the Earth’s atmosphere, while others, like sulfate droplets, cool it. Scientists think that on balance, the whole budget of aerosols ends up cooling the planet slightly. But exactly how much, and how much that effect can shift over days, years, or centuries is still not totally clear.
What are aerosols?
The term aerosol is a catch-all for many kinds of little bits of stuff that end up suspended in the atmosphere, from the surface of the planet all the way to the edges of space. They can be solid or liquid, infinitesimally small or big enough to see with the naked eye.
“Primary” aerosols, like dust, soot, or sea salt, come directly from the planet’s surface. They get lifted into the atmosphere by gusty winds, shot high into the air by exploding volcanoes, or they waft away from smokestacks or flames. “Secondary” aerosols form when different things floating in the atmosphere—like organic compounds released by plants, liquid acid droplets, or other materials—crash together, culminating in a chemical or physical reaction. Secondary aerosols, for example—make the haze that gives the U.S.’s Great Smoky Mountains their name.
Aerosols come from both natural and human sources—and sometimes both at once. Dust, for example, is scoured from deserts, the dried-out edges of rivers, dry lakebeds, and more. Its concentrations in the atmosphere rise and fall with climate; in cold, dry, periods in the planet’s history like the last ice age, more dust filled the atmosphere than during warmer stretches of Earth’s history. But humans have affected that natural cycle, making some places dustier than they otherwise would be and keeping other areas damp.
Sea salts provide another natural source of aerosols. They’re whipped out of the ocean by wind and sea spray and tend to fill the lower parts of the atmosphere. In contrast, some types of very explosive volcanic eruptions can shoot particles and droplets high into the upper atmosphere, where they can float for months or even years, suspended miles above Earth’s surface.
Human activity produces many different types of aerosols. Fossil-fuel burning produces particles, as well as the well-known greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide—so cars, airplanes, power plants, and industrial processes all produce particles that can collect in the atmosphere. Agriculture produces dust, as well as other things like aerosolized nitrogen products, both of which affect air quality near and far.
Fight against facial recognition hits wall across the West
The result is an impasse that has left tech companies largely in control of where and how to deploy facial recognition.
By JANOSCH DELCKER and CRISTIANO LIMA (POLITICO)
12/30/2019 05:03 AM EST
Face-scanning technology is inspiring a wave of privacy fears as the software creeps into every corner of life in the United States and Europe — at border crossings, on police vehicles and in stadiums, airports and high schools. But efforts to check its spread are hitting a wall of resistance on both sides of the Atlantic.
One big reason: Western governments are embracing this technology for their own use, valuing security and data collection over privacy and civil liberties. And in Washington, President Donald Trump’s impeachment and the death of a key civil rights and privacy champion have snarled expectations for a congressional drive to enact restrictions.
The result is an impasse that has left tech companies largely in control of where and how to deploy facial recognition, which they have sold to police agencies and embedded in consumers’ apps and smartphones. The stalemate has persisted even in Europe’s most privacy-minded countries, such as Germany, and despite a bipartisan U.S. alliance of civil-libertarian Democrats and Republicans.
Advocates for tighter regulations point to China as an example of the technology’s nightmare potential, amid reports authorities are using it to indiscriminately track citizens in public, identify pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and oppress millions of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang. Current implementations of the software also perpetuate racial bias by misidentifying people of color far more frequently than white people, according to a U.S. government study released just before Congress left town for Christmas.
“Facial recognition needs to be stopped before a fait accompli is established,” Patrick Breyer, a member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party Germany, told POLITICO.
"The use of facial recognition technology poses a staggering threat to Americans’ privacy," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who is prepping legislation to crack down on the software, said in June.
'We were lawless!' Banksy's photographer reveals their scams and scrapes
Steve Lazarides was the art renegade’s strategist, photographer and minder. As his shots are published [in a self-published book], he recalls the politics, parties and soaring price tags of ‘Matey Boy’
Stuart Jeffries (The Guardian)
Mon 16 Dec 2019 12.54 GMTLast modified on Mon 16 Dec 2019 16.50 GMT
One Christmas, Steve Lazarides and Banksy [his Stencil Archive] decided to kill Santa. “Reject false icons,” read the slogan hastily spray painted across their shopfront, behind a highly festive effigy they had created of Father Christmas dangling from a noose. Dotted around were signs intended to lure passersby into their shop, in the hope that they would join in the party and buy some artworks. The signs, however, may have had the opposite effect. “Santa’s Ghetto,” read one. “Stinking art piss,” read another.
“There were a few complaints about what we did to Santa,” says Lazarides, once Banksy’s right-hand man. “And about the noise. We didn’t care. It was a group show we did every year, so artists could make a little dough and punters could pick up some affordable art for Christmas stockings.”
Lazarides worked with Banksy for 11 rollercoaster years, initially documenting the artist at work back in 1997, then becoming his agent, strategist and even minder. The Christmas art shop had been rented from one of Soho’s last porn barons – but disaster struck. Liquid leaked through from the floor above, soaking an impromptu chandelier made of traffic cones. “I went to investigate,” says Lazarides. “It was a toilet overflowing. The crowd at the party thought it was part of the show. It wasn’t. It was literally stinking art piss.”
The art he and Banksy sold at Santa’s Ghetto was certainly affordable back in the noughties – but it could not be classified as such today. Lazarides recalls carrying armfuls of original Banksy prints to the shop, where they’d shift for £25. “At today’s rates,” he says, “I reckon each armful would be worth about half a million quid.”
One work, called Bomb Middle England, depicted three elderly women playing bowls with balls that had lit fuses coming out of them. In 2007, Sotheby’s sold a version of this image for £102,000, at the time the most ever fetched for a Banksy. It has since been eclipsed, with the title now held by the 2009 painting Devolved Parliament, which went for £8.5m earlier this year.
While Lazarides is happily reminiscing about the Santas of Christmases past, Banksy is on the streets of Birmingham making art about the scandals of Christmas present – in the form of his mural and video of two reindeer pulling, not Santa in his sleigh, but a homeless man called Ryan lying on a bench in the city’s jewellery quarter.