Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Public Art

Joshua Allen Harris Public Art Video

With in the past year or so I have had an almost unhealthy obsession with lowbrow Public Art, more popularly referred to as street art. There is this driving force within the artwork of this idea that people who have no want to know about art or the people who have “no time” for art are forced to interact with it or even unknowingly participate in it. The idea that at any moment of the day someone is forced to look at this new piece of art that has been turned into real life and really bring art to a practical level to what it is trying to talk about highly interests me.

I know that most if not anyone in the world by now has heard of the famous street artist with the penname Banksy who paints on walls around cities, and yes this form of public art is important in the ideas of what public art has become but I don’t think that public art should be limited to just this for two reasons.

First off just by readings and some video clips (like the one I posted above) has already expanded my knowledge of public art to sculpture, modification of existing objects, instillations, and even signs.

Secondly, I have often struggled with ethics of public art and what should be allowed and what is acceptable. Obviously by law what Bansky does is considered vandalism, along with many other “culture jamming” techniques such as sign manipulation and so on. Setting aside opinions referring to the ethics of this kind of public art and culture jamming I think that the ethics brings up an important question of whether or not public art is actually art at all. This question is too heavy for my response within this post, but I wanted to bring both the points of ethics of public art as well as the involvement of traditional art forms brought into the public while talking about this short clip I recently found on youtube.

The clip is about Joshua Allen Harris and his public art that is inflatable “bag monsters”. He goes about the city and placed his sculptures all around the city and the means of inflation is vents all around the city. This is referred to as public art simply because of aspect of it actually being in the public eye. I find it fascinating because these creatures that are made out of plastic bags come to life and are animated for moments at a time and when the air flows out of them they crumple up and die, just to be left on the ground and look like a useless bag on the pavement.

This series of public art also interests me because it seems that this kind of public artwork seems to be more tolerated than other forms of public art. It essentially is doing the same thing that any other public art piece is doing and it is in the public eye and forcing the people directly around it to interact with it whether they want to or not. Trying to figure out an answer to my question of acceptance I figured that it was because of its originality of what we see street art as and its ability to be pubic art without being an illegal method to produce the work. Which hints at the next question, what makes any public or street art different than a street performer? Or where is the line going to be drawn for advertisements on walls so not every inch of the streets are going to be sold for advertisements to sell us the public things?

Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It's yours to take, rearrange and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.” -Banksy

19 comments:

  1. The video was awesome, and the quote by Banksy is interesting. Public art is always an intriguing subject to look at and talk about.

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  2. It's interesting to read about different points of view on street art. I think whether or not someone considers it art somewhat depends on the property. I guess I would feel differently about it if something of mine had been graffiti.

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  3. That is a really good point to bring up. Most advertisements out in public do for lack of a better term-- suck. I'd rather not see these billboards and ads and to be quite honest I would love it if I was walking and there were unexpected things like a creature made out of bags being inflated by vents around the city. This would be like walking through a gallery every single day. That sounds awesome to me.
    BUT, I do not agree with vandalism. I think that there are tons of people that would agree to having street art on their property as long as the idea was pitched to them first. I just feel as if we have come to a point were street art is appreciated so why go around vandalizing property unnecessarily when you could just go door to door asking property owners who would be interested in temporary street artists using their property to display work. I think it would be a great business...after gaining popularity people would pay for street artists to display their pieces on their property. I feel like certain artsy districts would be interested in things like this, especially since street art for the most part is temporary so if there are any issues it can just be taken down. I don't see a problem with a system like this.
    I know some street artists speak of the rush they get when they have to do street art secretively but it has such a negative reaction from the greater public when done like this. Some artist even say that the rush and the fact that it is secretive is part of the concept around their street art...Banksy, for example, doesn't even want his real name to be known. He has made it a part of the concept of his pieces. His street art as seen by the greater public is created by this sort of phantom street artist who's identity is unknown. Although other street artists aren't really like this many do follow this type of "running away from authority" sort of culture that is wrapped up in their work as well. I think we can enjoy street art so much more if it didn't mean stepping on the toes of public property or sometimes even private property.
    Street art nonetheless, is awesome in my eyes, there is just that one thing that bothers me.

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  4. whoa...that was a long comment...:/

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  5. Those bag monsters are a ridiculously cool.

    That aside, I think Jules has a point - the acceptability of street art is definitely based on WHERE it happens. I know some people are really passionate about tagging, but as someone who has had the side of my apartment defaced with someone's ugly signature, I consider it an invasion of personal space when it's put onto private property. Places that belong to no one in particular, like viaducts, sidewalks, and places you'd see advertisements posted are fair game to me. But when you start pushing your idea of art onto someone's home or storefront, you're undermining their right to decorate their own environment according to their desires and costing them money they shouldn't have to pay.

    I agree there's a market for street art on private property - there's even a market for painting ads on the fronts of people's houses now (as long as their paid billboard fees). If there are people out there willing to make the front of their house an ad for yahoo, there's DEFINITELY people who would want murals. Just ask!

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  6. I've seen Harris' work before, and it's so creative and fun! Art like this feels like a random act of kindness because I think it's impossible not to smile at it.

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  7. I LOVE this. What a great idea. Not only is the artist using recyclable materials, but it can be taken down just as easily as it is put up.

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  8. This kinda makes me think of the giant eyeball that was put up near the Library train stop last fall. True, that's on a larger scale and that was (I think) sponsored by the city, but in terms of what it did for the urban landscape, I think the effect is similar to these "garbage bag creatures". It was something unexpected and whimsical that broke up the monotony of the concrete jungle. For me personally, that eyeball became a point of bragging to my out-of-state friends ("We have a giant freaking eyeball by our public library. What do you have?")

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  9. Loved the video.

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  10. This is amazing! I have never seen this before and I wonder how long it takes him to create each creature. Seeing these creatures pop up in the city after a train goes by can turn anyones bad day into a good day just because they are so different and cool and people seem very intrigued by them in the video.

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  11. I love how you said that people who have no desire for interaction with art art forced to view it and even experience it whether they want to or not, I feel like you see people's real reactions that way.

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  12. I really like the idea of art that uses the space around it to make people see art in an unexpected place.

    Again this brings up is street art legal/should it be/what makes it 'art' instead of trash/vandalism. So many questions, not a lot of answers.

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  13. I never really thought about using street art as a way to force people to be confronted with art. I wonder if those people even realize they are being confronted with it or if those are the people labeling it at vandalism.

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  14. Street art is very confrontational, I agree with that idea. But it is really the viewer who ultimately chooses to see if or not. So many people claim to be interested in graffiti and street art, particularly in this city but I find it funny because when asked seldom can people state a particular tag or artist who's work they like.

    This stuff shows up in the smallest places, from the panels on CTA busses and trains, mailboxes, sidewalks, places that we see multiple times daily, it really is everywhere just as advertisements, but the thing is that no matter how hard the city tries to remove it, I personally feel that new pieces will continue to pop up everywhere.

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  15. i love street art. as i have often expressed, i think it takes a great deal of skill to do it.

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  16. I agree with what Katie said. And street art is just one of those things that just does not have a simple solution.

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  17. It takes some 'balls' to be a street artist. Anyone who is successful at it has no doubt been arrested on more than one occasion!

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  18. Love the quote though I don't know how well I agree with it. I love street art and the risks the artist take adds to the work

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  19. Love the video- the idea is so simple. I feel too that this is a form of street art that seems to be more accepted, that is not necessarily interfering permanently with its surroundings? I like what you said about "people who have no want to know about art or the people who have “no time” for art are forced to interact with it or even unknowingly participate in it." Its educating whether or not you want it- like advertising on billboards or anything we come in contact with on a daily basis.

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