As an aspiring model I am often compared to Grace Jones, which I take as a compliment, I love her sense of style and her androgynous look, she is an individual, unique and highly successful.
Here is a short bio of her life:
Jamaican-American singer, model & actress
Known for her diva behaviour and dance club hits
Androgynous square cut hair along with padded clothing
A muse to Andy Warhol
Strong visual presence
I am surprised I haven't blogged about this already because Kurt Geiger is my favourite high street shoe brand, even as a student I would save all my money just to get one pair, I am not going to admit how many KG's I have because that would be admitting I have a shoe problem.
The first Kurt Geiger opened on Bond Street, London in 1963.
By 1985 Kurt geiger was acquired by The House Of Fraser group, which was later taken over by Harrods in 1994.
In 2001 a Kurt Geiger boutique was launched in London's South molton Street, which was shortly followed by openings in Leeds, Manchester, Heathrow T3, High street Kensington & Hampstead.
In 2006 the first international branch was opened in Paris coinciding with the flagship store in Regents Street, with the online store www.kurtgeiger.com also being launched.
The newest notch includes the landmark store in Dubai.
As a Kurt Geiger comrade, my favourite store to date must be the Covent Garden store by Found Associates.
I have always had an affixation with street art whilst studying I even wrote an essay about street art within the urban environment.
Analyse exchange, motivation and the spatial machine through mapping a psycheographic derive using the discussed texts in seminars as supporting evidence.
The aim of this essay is to draw conclusions about the effects of public symbols and graffiti art in public spaces; this will be done by analysing three areas; exchange, motivation and the spatial machine. The Thesis of this essay centres around a derive made in Canterbury, which used photography to map a route of graffiti art and public symbols. The thesis is supported by set texts discussed in the seminars. By examining; exchange, motivation and the spatial machine, this will illustrate the role of design action in public spaces.
Comparing graffiti and public symbols reveals the designers or systems motivation behind creating the design action. Design actions in public spaces are often used to define a space or provoke a reaction. However there are some unnoticed design actions, which are used to control society, such as public symbols, in contrast to graffiti which is ignored and uncontrolled.
These images demonstrate symbols collected from the Canterbury derive which subconsciously controls scociety.
Figure 1 Lamppost bounded in yellow tape
Figure 2 Warning sign of CCTV surveillance
Figure 3 No Cycling and no smoking sign
Public symbols are enforced by the local authority to control society. Public symbols control the individual, in effect controlling the mass, ‘city often suppresses the free will of the individual’ (Froome-Lewis:2009, page 11), as stated in Touching The city. By mapping routes for the individual through the use of signs, it creates a platform for the rest of society to follow e.g. intimate pathways, for the individual later develop into national geographic pathways for the country. The motivation for photographing public symbols and graffiti art was the concept of creating a pre-defined derive, which consisted of two contrasting elements the controlled (public symbols), the uncontrolled (graffiti art). (Froome-Lewis 2009)
Local authority control can be interpreted as nanny state dictatorship, or as an accepted part of society. The use of public symbols may not be noticed by the individual on a day to day basis but there might be a subconscious sense of control dictating the movement of the individual through the use of these symbols. By examining the local authorities’ use of control through symbols, it illustrates the motivation behind the design action. Mapping a route to capture the dominance of the local authority in society might create a larger picture; one way to do this might be photographing symbols and graffiti.
In contrast to public symbols graffiti manipulates the environment and its surrounding elements. Graffiti injects life and colour into its environment, It rejuvenates the surrounding space through the expression of the artist. If power is dictated by the use of symbols to direct the mass, it is important to focus on the lack of control over graffiti. The system in place which prohibits the act of graffiti has been to some extent ignored, broken down by the rebels of society. Rising tension between the use of public symbols and the mass of society can also be reflected within graffiti. Public symbols symbolise the acceptance of an external infra structure, whereas graffiti ignores the infra structure and breaks the confinements of authority.
An image of graffiti breaking the confinements of the local authority
Figure 4 Image taken at St Mary’s Cray Station, Kent
Another analogy which can be drawn is the individual interpretation of the user and viewer of the design action. Both actions create the urban landscape, without the two, the urban fabric would be void of the individualism of graffiti, and naked without public signs. The two elements co-exist between the controlled and the uncontrolled environment.
Whilst examining the acceptance of symbols it is important to analyse the loss of symbols. If public symbols were to disappear, it would cause chaos and mayhem and have an immediate effect on the environment. The removal of graffiti would merely create a sense of emptiness within the space. However the benefits from the use of symbols include freedom to travel freely and safely within a space. On the other hand the loss of graffiti would cause less of a disruption. Graffiti breaks up the, everyday landscape, and provides a refreshing site for the viewer.
Design actions can translate as objects or systems of exchange and ‘invitation must be returned’ (Mauss, 2001:84). This quote draws attention to the concept of exchange. Symbols form an exchange between the individual and their immediate environment. Whereas the interpretation of public symbols is straight forward and understood by all, with graffiti the exchange is deciphered by the interpretation of the viewer and their initial thoughts when viewing the graffiti. Different types of exchange can be identified in The Gift by Marcel Mauss, this relates directly with graffiti and symbols. The main types of exchange identified in The Gift include ; the joy of exchange, accepted exchange, constant exchange, and barter exchange. Analogies can be drawn from each exchange relating to graffiti and symbols. (Mauss 2001)
‘the joy of public giving’ (Mauss, 2001:89); graffiti art can be recognised as the artist, giving back to the community enriching their minds with art, a form of exchange highlighted by Mauss. This can be further investigated through symbols, local authority control, an exchange of public giving in return for public safety, with public interest at heart.
‘the solitude arising from reciprocity and cooperation, and that of occupational grouping’(Mauss,2001:89) this quote demonstrates the relationship between the controlled and the controller, similar to the relationship of symbols and the mass. A mutual agreement between the mass and local authority.
‘constant payment made between man and wife’ (Mauss,2001:93) a constant form of exchange is between the mass and the local authority. Acknowledging the types of exchange made identifies different types of exchange.
‘Other means of spending and exchanging than pure expenditure’ this point of the text emphasises that exchange can go beyond the usual barter and acceptance. Exchange transcends all boundaries, which has been demonstrated in graffiti art, being present in different environments and cultures. Ananlysing the motivation behind the design actions of graffiti and symbols helps to create a broader picture of design action in public spaces.
In order to understand the motivation, behind mapping routes of symbols, and graffiti, it is essential to describe the role of The Situationist movement leading to the development of psychogeography. The aim of The Situationist movement was to breakdown the division between art and its consumers and to make a cultural production apart of everyday life. ‘The study of specific affects at the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals’ (Debord, 1958, Situationist International). In effect this led to the development of psychogeography, a form of spontaneous or controlled wandering known as the derive or urban drifting, the underlying topic of this essay. (Debord 1958)
Identifying and mapping symbols and graffiti creates a collage of symbols and meanings. It constitutes a quest to dive into the unknown and to expect the unexpected. It is an opportunity to interact with the urban fabric, which is often ignored and forgotten resulting in ‘urban excursions to the banal places of the city’ (Cairei, 2001: 68). Another aspect to take into account is the effect on the actions of the local authority’s lack of interest, due to the condition of the immediate environment, leaving the area to decay. Graffiti crosses through boundaries of art and gallery spaces, but draws attention to the political system of the local area. A running parallel shared between The Situationist movement and graffiti.
Graffiti has been ever present, going far back as the Romans. Graffiti was a form of self expression, marking territory of the individual, or drawing attention to political unrest. Graffiti soon developed into a form of art, becoming a part of Popular culture. The popularity and legitimisation of graffiti led to its commercialisation. Protection of style and anonymity is of high importance, due to the prospect of being arrested. Bansky a popular street artist, has remained faceless despite the popularity of his work.(Daveyd 1998)
Image showing the classic argument of vandalism vs. art
Graffiti continually brings up the classic argument of vandalism vs. art. Despite this not all graffiti can be considered as public art. Defacing property without the owner’s permission is considered as vandalism and punishable by law. It is vital to recognise the history of graffiti, as helps to decipher which aspects share common ground with the Situationist movement.
The Situationist, were on a quest to revitalise the mundane areas within the city. Graffiti not so much symbols, slowly infiltrated the city, providing energy and life, for even the dull areas in the city. This is retrospect is different to the intentions of The Situationist, which can thus be regarded in a different light.
Symbols can be accepted as the found and the mundane, whereas graffiti, has a contrasting effect. Graffiti provokes a reaction, a judgement is passed, and graffiti causes interaction between both its immediate landscape and the viewer.
The collection of images photographed on the Canterbury derive can be used as a product to engage with society, like the work of the Situationist. It demonstrates the selected route of the banal areas, which has been produced as a piece of art work by Asger Jorn.
A mapped route of Copenhagen
Figure 5Asger Jorn, pagina di Fin de Copenhague, 1957
In spite of this, the final product may be seen as an intrusion on a historical city, casting a shadow on the historical elements which makes the city. The use of symbols can be seen as domesticating the city landscape, opposed to graffiti which introduces an individual approach. Comparable to the Situationist mapping routes of symbols and graffiti, it crosses the boundaries between the unknown and the uninhabited although the motivation behind each approach is to rediscover the forgotten. Analysing and describing the incentive behind mapping symbols and graffiti gives an understanding, of how each action affected the public space, taking into consideration the context and background knowledge.
The physical outcome of the collected images can become evocative objects, depending on the reaction caused by the user or viewer. The collected images have numerous types of possible outcomes. They could be transferred on to the internet and explored by millions, via You Tube, with the backdrop of a soundtrack to add context to the collected images, to provoke a feeling from the audience, hence becoming an evocative object. This is demonstrated in the Sherry Turkle text Evocative Objects- The way we think, in which objects are linked with sentimental emotions. By identifying the different characteristics of being evocative, it helps to relate memory to both graffiti and symbols characteristics identified within the text include; companionship, discovery and memory.
Both graffiti and symbols can be seen as evocative objects, which interact with their everyday surroundings. A type of interaction which later develops into everyday life experiences as mentioned by Sherry Turkle ‘the object as a companion in life experience’ (Turkle, 2007:5). This quote reflects the established acceptance of graffiti and symbols in everyday life. Investigating the role which graffiti and symbols, play in everyday life, leads to parallels investigated by Sherry Turkle.
In spite of analysing the relationship between graffiti art and public symbols to its immediate environment, it is important to take into account the dynamic relationship between memory and thinking. Addressing the link between the two helps to identify the characteristic which makes the evocative object.
The collection of images can become a memory object displayed within exhibition, changing the nature of the target audience, thus changing the relationship between the individual and the device. Another outcome of the images may evoke a sense of political and social unrest, depending on the composition, layout and intention of the device. Actions which can be deployed from symbols include the action to follow and the ability to avoid penalties, of the external infra structure. Symbols and graffiti can both be expressed as spatial machines, as they define the spaces in their surroundings. Symbols instruct the individual demonstrating the ability to become a spatial machine. This has similarity to the immediate atmosphere of graffiti. Both graffiti and symbols share the property of having the ability to be transferred into a device.
The Canterbury derive explicitly explores different types of design actions in public spaces. By scrutinising the applications of graffiti art and Public symbols in the urban landscape, it underlines the interaction between the environment the individual and the mass.
Recently channel 4 had a documentary Graffiti Wars; which was mainly based around rivals Banksy and Robbo. Many of Banksy's enemies believe he is no longer a graffiti artist but rather an artist trying to claim to be a graffiti artist. The documentary also explored the idea of when graffiti became art and visa versa, when did the boundaries blur and when did it become a criminal offence. Many graffiti artist had now become well renowned artists, painting murals and exhibiting internationally.