Art Crimes Article

Mythconceptions of a Culture, The Facts

© 1999 Phase 2
All rights reserved.

Section from Style Writing from the Underground (R)evolutions of Aerosol Linguistics (reprinted courtesy of Phase 2)

These are the facts.... First of all it's not even called graffiti*, it's writing. Graffiti is some social term that was developed (for the culture) somewhere in the 70s. (IZ THE WIZ)

* graffiti pl. (from Italian graffiare, "to scratch")
1. a scribbling on an ancient wall, as in Pompeii
2. a drawing or writing scratched on a wall or other surface

Let us focus on the word "graffiti," a term commonly used in reference to "Aerosol Culture" the multifaceted movement which evolves around the use of the aerosol paint can) and to "writing' (one of its many aspects as well as the source from which "Aerosol Culture" originated). Undoubtedly, from the very beginning and quite officially, writers referred to themselves as "writers" and what they did as "writing," for the simple fact that this is what they did. In their own unique way, they continually reinterpreted the English language to their liking as they saw fit. This terminology was complimentary to their lingo to accentuate it, and was sufficient and in tune with their acknowledgement of it as "an everyday activity." Thus all was null and void of any urgency of "further appropriation."

Writers have always defined themselves by and through that which they expressed, henceforth, the notion to appropriate and create a "verbal atmosphere" to describe the activities in and around it (bombing, racking, biting, piecing, hitting, etc.) as well as letter styles (softie, hump, mechanical, bar, soft bar, etc.), has been a common "practice" throughout its 25 plus years.

It was afterwards that newspaper articles surfaced referring to their writing as "graffiti," that the terminology latched itself onto the culture as the appropriation for it, as well as stigmatizing it into an abominable controversy.

This has always been a case of the powers that be, more concerned with denouncing and attempting to obliterate something before they even attempt to understand or relate to it in any way shape or form. Their initial recourse was to take a negative approach towards it. How could they appropriate it having never cared about it to begin with? I find it ironic that people today, especially those involved in the culture refuse to recognize the magnitude of what's taken place and what has been created by the existence of writing and this subculture.

This wasn't like an invention or something that you painstakingly take an initiative to label or assimilate. In any event it happened naturally and instinctively. The real problem from the start is that, every time the media introduces rhetoric to the public at large, we eat it up like free chicken and buttered biscuits. It seems as if it's not "popular" to dismiss it, they'll just continue to abide by it. What we need to respect and wholly understand is that this is our creation, our child, our responsibility, and not someone else's. Whatever good it's got coming to it, or however it should be represented or appropriated, it isn't going to happen, if technically it's left up to the same people who have a legacy in the practice of lying in general and relating to circumstances less associated with them and their interests, with a lot less concern or compassion for it. You've got to be totally out of your mind if you think even for a second that it will.

Writing is indeed a movement. Throughout most of its existence many writers' signatures have possessed qualities and characteristics unto itself and not conforming to the "basic way" of writing. This has been accompanied with the masterpiece, the mastering of spraypaint the ongoing creation of style, and evolution of the letter. All of the aforementioned, even without, but surely with the expansion of the cultures' curriculum beyond writing, ascends it above the descriptions stated within the confines of the commonly used reference.

Writing. Technically it begins with the signature and proceeds with the masterpiece. Both have their stages of metamorphosis. Then there is the throw up. The signature and masterpiece would be considered writing's main or major components. The masterpiece is the dominant of the two forms. Far from science or theory, they are its makeup and primary elements.

Writing is centered on names, words and letters. Combined with the objective of their execution, this creates the product and the overall makeup of the writer.

Writers agree without a doubt, that there is an attitude and commitment within the soul that accompanies being a true writer (as well as being true to the culture) that one's volume of work, brandishing a can of paint, or going through the motions can in no way replace.

One's use of spray paint is not an automatic right of passage into the ranks of writing. In the aerosol domain a writer would be one whose main function is painting signatures or rendering pieces of any style, simple or complex.

If you wanna see a real writer, send him over to Singapore and see what he's gonna paint over there (Spon)

Aside from those ever so important redeeming qualities, an individual's concentration in those aforementioned areas would still account for their being known or labeled as a writer.

Let us again clarify the total spectrum of our subject matter, "Writing," (signatures, pieces — complex, intricate and other style lettering and throw ups). Apparently aerosol writing is a derivative of the alphabet; but the instance of its evolution and transformation weighed in its entirety exceeds the limited curriculum of the alphabet. Undoubtedly the user of the aerosol can is an integral part of the culture that must also be recognized. Outside of writing the culture has extended itself and now consists of other forms connected to, as well as removed from its original format (writing) and this too must be recognized. The appropriate terminology that describes this atmosphere in relation to all of the aspects within it is "AEROSOL CULTURE,: i.e.:
"I am a bomber, strictly throw ups ... quantity" ...
"I do a lot of animation ... B'Boy style characters" ...
"Hard-core ... totally into crazy letters" ...
"I hit all over ... with signatures" ...
"You name it, abstract, surreal, fantasy scenes" ... etc.

Based on one's perception of what art is, all of the ingredients within Aerosol culture can be "classified" as art or "Aerosol Art." This terminology technically defines that which could be considered as having aesthetic attributes.

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