Chapter 2: Building and discovering the global track

Introduction to chapter two

“There was 600 miles of track. Because of the internet, it’s now a global track.” – Hector ‘Nicer’ Nazario of TATS CRU[1]

The internet changed everything – not just for street art or graffiti, but for all of us and in all facets of our lives. In this chapter, I take a close look at what the internet has done for traditional graffiti and street art. In short, it sped things up and messed with our ideas of location. The communication between artists that took years before the internet – if it ever happened at all – now occurs in minutes across international boundaries. There’s just more information available today. While there may never be another event like the stencil artist boom in 1980’s Paris, a similar situation could be geographically dispersed but visible online. It’s a new world, one that has propelled street art and graffiti to new heights.

This chapter begins with a theoretical examination of what the internet means for the audience for street art and graffiti. I argue that artists are now fully-aware of, and comfortable with, producing work to be seen both on the street and online. The geographic constraints that had previously limited street art and graffiti have been lifted. While a major boon for artists and fans, the shift has forced artists to reconsider their intended audience.

Next, I look at some of the online systems for digitally documenting and distributing street art and graffiti. These systems have facilitated the growth of street art and graffiti over the last 15 or so years, reaching a larger fanbase, offering new platforms for artwork, and greatly increasing the opportunity for communication between artists.

Finally, as in the first chapter, I recount a series of anecdotes about artists’ experiences with the internet. These stories show how street artists and graffiti writers have taken advantage of the internet and how these new systems have lifted the geographic constraints that had previously defined street art and graffiti.

This is a chapter about location, about city streets and places that exist only as URLs. The internet has dislocated street art and graffiti, moving it from walls into a digital ether. Much of the art in this chapter exists primarily in these new locations. Some of it wouldn’t exist without the internet. Some of it uses this new sense of location as a promotional tool for the artist and other pieces engage critically with the idea of dislocated street art. It’s all about location, about discovering that there is now a lot more out there than just the walls of the neighborhood. There’s a global track.

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  1. Steel Canvases. Perf. John "Crash" Matos, Hector 'Nicer' Nazario, Wilfredo “Bio” Feliciano, Henry Chalfant and Eric "Deal" Felisbret. Facebook. Bronx Documentary Center, 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2013. <https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200766599386636>.

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