In search of a commons of centers - reviewing values and methods designed to assert benefit, harm or opportunity among uncommissioned visual urban practices
Photographer Martha Cooper points out that artists and graffitists define street art as pictures and graffiti as words (Cooper, 2016). Meanwhile, municipal authorities, property and transport managers may tell us that street art is framed by what is legal and graffiti by what is illegal. This is not an article about art versus crime, rather it is about disparate and commonly accessible centers for discussing and understanding value, in ways that look toward easier dialogue across and between long-separated specialisms concerned with unsolicited visual urban practice and efforts to manage those. To Cooper the processes of painting and urban play are at the center, to authorities legal, political and commercial demands lie far closer to the center. Each of us who variously associate or engage with uncommissioned street art, urban creativity or graffiti, bring new centers and peripheries, be those related to social personal interest, professional occupation, or spatial action. Artists, creative practitioners, urban managers, land owners, cultural consumers, transport providers, academics, activists and self-proclaimed vandals, each reframe what we bring to this terrain through highly disparate values and indicators that we consciously or unconsciously attribute to these informal visual urban practices. This article draws on findings from a recent major European research project, Graffolution, plus separate socially responsive design-led insights gathered through the Graffiti Dialogues Network via the University of the Arts London, plus interviews with a wide range of individuals, diversely concerned with graffiti and related practices. It sets out to identify and discuss some of the value-sets and indicators which some consider as central and others consider peripheral in experiencing, managing, creating or otherwise intervening in urban contexts through visual practices. The article refers to cases that merge diverse value centers, in varying success, and discloses a number of immediate opportunities for prototyping new common and accessible ways to understand and respond to different centers and peripheries of value.
Citation : Willcocks, M. and Toylan, G. (2016) In search of a commons of centers - reviewing values and methods designed to assert. Street Art and Urban Creativity Scientific Journal, 2 (2). pp. 22-36 Available from: http://www.urbancreativity.org
Research Group : Cinema and Television History Research Centre
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- Leicester Media School