Picture: Graffiti and reflection in standing water inside an abandoned building, Berkeley, California
While I continue to be very busy, I at least wanted to poke my head above water to let you know about something I recently had the fun opportunity to document. I spent a day on my own, wandering around an old 3-story abandoned building in Berkeley, documenting all the profuse graffiti which appeared on nearly every reachable surface. It turns out that the person who hired me is a patron of the arts, and hated to see some of the more impressive graffiti art fade into oblivion as the building was being readied for renovation. My job was to capture some of those more artistic presentations. While much graffiti we see in our daily lives is mere tagging by juveniles or gang members, some of the work in this building was definitely worthy of the title “Art.” I was honored to be asked to document these modernglyphics, and to preserve the work as Art.
I’ve photographed graffiti tourists have left in national parks, including carvings in sandstone next to Native American Pictographs. All of these, from Egyptian heiroglyphics, to gang tags in public restrooms, to tourists leaving “The Smith Family was here – 2006″ in the Grand Canyon, all stem from the same inner desire; to leave some permanent remembrance of our own transient existence; something that says, “I was here.”
I suppose my rhetorical question after seeing all these variations would be, “at what point does something cross the line between being graffiti or visual pollution, to something of historical significance worth saving?” Let’s say you’re in Utah, when you spy a rock carved with the initials “RLP was here ’70.” What would you automatically think; “Dumb kids,” right? Would it make a difference if that rock graffiti was made by Robert LeRoy Parker back in 1870; a.k.a. a 14 year-old Butch Cassidy?
Image ID#: _Ba4_GRAF-0265
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