Victoria Dreaming (worlds largest graffiti)

On June 3rd of this year I attempted to paint the largest single artist piece of graffiti in the world. Measuring 170 meters by 75 meters it was composed for the lawn of Victoria Park London.

For three weeks I scouted the park, then across the street from my apartment. I watched the day and night time movement of the park staff. Documented various comings and goings, laid in the grass and thought of the shape of the turf and the way I would do what I do here.

I decided to use environmentally friendly field line marking paint. Like spray paint but not permanent. It only comes in 7 colors (red, blue, green, yellow, orange black and white) and I decided to skip green on the lawn and I never use black.

On the night of the painting I and my associates (one on a nearby building watching the front door, the other in the park with me video taping me painting and watching the rear approach) started at 2am. Carrying the paint in large bags over to the field I setup the camera and began to work.

Within 10 minutes I became aware that the helicopter circling the other side of the park was watching the ground. It was low and moved very slowly. I walked the 100 meters back to the video camera setup to be under the shelter of the trees. I took the dv camera (which was shooting in infrared) and pointed it at the copter. Low and behold they could clearly be seen using an infrared spotlight to scout the ground. Invisible to the human eye but not to their (or my) cameras. I started to sweat.

Minutes were moving by quickly. The helicopter finally started to pull away from the park and I returned to the center of the field to paint. I was on my 4th can in 30 minutes. The physical area was huge that I was covering and all in the dark.

After a few more dodges with the copter my mobile phone vibrated in my pocket. This meant that the cops were coming through the park. I quickly covered the distance to the trees, lying down beside the camera person in the grass and waited. I could see the headlights moving through the trees of the park. After the lights passed I could still hear the engine close by. It stopped only 20 meters away from us and the door opened. I had barely sketched an outline at this point. But then the door closed and the car drove off. We had successfully gotten through a security pass. My heart still pounding I jumped up and went back to work.

I painted for what seemed like hours (actually only about 3 hours total) and dodged the copter another time. But by 4:30am the sunlight was so bright I could clearly see across the fields to the streets. I was out of time. I stopped, having only used in the range of 20 cans. I had a complete outline and several colors but no real fill. It would take 10 hours of solid work in the light to really make the piece fill up.

Beyond the time constraints we would take the photos the next day in the field. Outside of a circle of viewing of about 5 meters across you could not see the entire shape at all. The length of the grass was long enough to obscure any part you were not on top of to look at. The monster simply disappeared into the grass. Next time shorter grass.

This piece was certainly a learning experience. My body ached for days from the physical aspect of moving over the field and hunching over with the spry gun to paint. The scale of something like this piece can not be underestimated. Area equals time.

But at least I got it out into the world. Next time I do it in the broad daylight and pretend I am supposed to be there.

Comments Off on Victoria Dreaming (worlds largest graffiti) Posted in Uncategorized

racism

I have never really understood racism and what the function it serves in society is. I come from an area of the United States that has a high level of racism, meaning that average people on the whole find some particular race offensive in some way. This is common in most of the suburban and rural US, though not uncommon in the cities.

With the upcoming elections in the US I have wondered if a black president will increase or decrease the level of racism in American society. I guess it depends on how he does and what he does while he is there.

I have since my earliest memories been very disgusted by racism, witnessing it constantly in my youth and having been asked repeatedly if I had a problem with a specific race – either by someone of that origin or by someone against that origin. The use of derogatory words is something that has offend me my whole life.

But the US is not the only place I have been with a racism problem. Currently the Danish government is controlled by an openly racist political party hell bent on returning itself to an isolationist country in the near future. I witnessed the last elections in Copenhagen first hand and watched as my filmmaker and otherwise cultural friends stared into their beers ashamed at what the winning political party was saying at that moment on the television screens. It amounted to “We will get ride of the brown people!” [in Europe this translates to Muslims]

At that moment I thought, “Wow, you could never, ever get away with that in the US – even if you stood for that line of thinking.” [On the one hand it brings into question America’s actual rights of speech and its self censoring habits – on the other it raises the question of how bad racism can be when it goes beyond cultural ignorance and unfamiliarity.]

But what function does racism serve? To whose benefit does racism pander? When we look at the pattern of racism, how it controls financial and social structures and what it means in terms of general power in society, who is gaining?

The power of a word. What gives a racist comment its power? How do the words ‘nigger’, ‘spic’, ‘yid’, mean what they do and who empowers it in a specific context? [Why does profanity at all have power? Why create words one should not say? Besides racist ideas what gives the words ‘fuck’ ‘wanker’ and ‘cunt’ power as well?]

We do. We lend our associations to these words. We use them with disgust or are disgusted by them for the very same reason. Because of what we say they mean.

bandwidth

I travel a lot. My life is shaped as such that most of what I do can be done from anyplace in the world, as long as my laptop has access to the internet. Because I am so often away from home (where in London I have fiber optic at my apartment) I find myself constrained by the availability of wireless networks. Everyplace I go I must find a network that I can connect to that will not just allow me internet access but, if I can find it, give me considerable bandwidth. (Movies are huge files!)

More often than not I must find a private network that does not have encryption enabled. Thus I can airsurf freely and do what I do without going to a library or cafe.

In the major cities of the US and EU this is not really a problem. In any relatively populated area there exists dozens of networks, and almost always someone has left their encryption off and is sharing their internet to the world, knowingly or not. But outside of the big cities this access to info falls off very fast. In my parents town there are no wireless networks in any range of their home, even though they live close to the center of a 75,000 population town. They have cable internet. But no one uses wireless it seems.

In the 21 century we exist in a stream of data unheard of even 20 years ago. The way in which we interact with all forms of electronic communication and data is astoundingly complex. We can know anything that can be known by accessing the huge infrastructure of data that is the web. We can do so from the tiniest devices and be almost anyplace to do so.

What is to me the biggest issue is the strange growth of redundant systems evolving to get the data to us. Cable, fiber, copper, GRMS, Wifi all compete with each other to bring us the data we need and want. But why do they compete when by cooperation they could be giving us so much more.

Take cell phones for instance. Each mobile phone is a send and receive device with a processor many times bigger than some of my early computers. As we walk around the city (and the world really) we are being tracked by the cellular networks around us. Moving from one cell (or group of communication towers) to another without loosing our connection.

But each mobile phone is capable of being part of a larger packet processing network. Data could just as easily be transmitted from phone to phone across the network instead of through the towers. This kind of processor sharing is already current in the backbone of the web, why not implement this in our mobile networks? The upswing of utilizing a mobile to mobile intranet would be a reduction of strain on the towers and in areas where data demand is the highest (say an office building in a metropolitan area) there exists an exponential increase in the presence of mobile phones, thus the resolution of the network would be highest where demand is the highest. The future of bandwidth exists in an organically evolving model of data infrastructure.

But I digress. In the current setup only one out of every 10 people leaves their wifi bandwidth open to the public, most of these unknowingly. There are many reasons for having a secure network but in the end your computer is only really safe offline. Why not create open networks that give a percentage of your bandwidth allowance to the public? If everyone paying for bandwidth in Chicago “donated” a portion of their total bandwidth to open internet protocols then the entire city would be able to have internet access without diminishing the bandwidth of the paying customers.

In the end access to information, at least certain basic information like news, weather, dictionary, wikipedia (though it has some problems of its own), should be available to everyone all of the time without cost. Like a glass of water. We live in the information age, are we not free?

tobacco

I think some people smoke tobacco because they KNOW it is killing them. Its not possible for an intelligent adult to be smoking cigarettes without knowing that it is pointless, expensive and very bad for you. So the obvious conclusion is that many adults smoke because they want to die.

Smoking is the only legal way in which to kill yourself in America. They who decide that some drugs are bad and others only-to-be-used-as-directed, they who make suicide a crime, have made cigarettes legal and continue to tax them fully. Is it population control?

It is possible that the anti smoking ads all feed into the average smokers actual desire to be dead? (or to at least inflict self caused pain?) Are the anti tobacco ad campaigns really provoking a mass need for self inflicted pain? By seeing that ‘bad’ people smoke, and that smoking causes them pain and death, maybe society is empathetic and believes themselves to be ‘bad’ and thus in need of dying.

Under natural law certain formulas exist to counter act population over growth and genetic blandness. Disease, famine, harsh weather climates all control the population of a species. Maybe there are other, more built into the genetic code, variables that shape and control the evolution of our species.

Are we killing ourselves to protect the future evolution of our race? That those who smoke will die so that others may live?

Either way the shit still stinks like an asshole.

struggle

So I am halfway through my stay in Chicago this year. In 3 weeks I will be returning to London to work there for the winter. My time here has been relatively productive, lots of new projects afoot.

Today I got in the mail the unmastered new album by Kinit Her, one of the most spectacularly strange bands I have every heard. Totally amazing stuf I can’t wait to work with.

All in all I am constantly facing the struggle to remain on top of my work. Being creative is easy, doing creative things and still paying the bills is not so easy. It’s a mountain to climb to figure out how to live life creatively without financial support.

This existence, living across a huge geographic area, painting in Chicago, living in London, all has given me a wider sense of perspective on life. I see much more clearly how limited each culture is in its scope. The few people I have meet in my travels who really have some idea about life are those that have lived in many places.

Today my friend told me that humans have inherited our ability to process animal milk from nomadic tribes who raided the early agricultural civilizations. They had developed a survival trait that allowed them to be portable, taking their animals with them as a fresh food source. (I know, I have strange conversations with people).

What comes clear to me is not that any cultural model is correct. All cultures have problems and benefits. But each one is suited for a specific mode of living. American culture is great if you are the basic consumer. If you work, buy, sleep, and dig passive entertainment then America is a dream come true. If you would rather make things than money, explore imagination and dreams, live creatively and learn to know more about the world then America isnt your best choice for living. I am not sure where is the best place for being an artist. But I will keep on looking.