Keep your eyes on the ground when walking along Thereses gate in Bislett if you really want to know where to find some bees, listen to bird songs, or learn more about the history of the street.
The practice of “eye bombing” involves affixing eyes in clever ways to create faces in unusual places. Some artists use commercially bought adhesive googly eyes, others use markers or paint, and others hand-drawn or printed stickers. There are two prolific artists in Oslo whose sticker eyes humourously interact with various aspects of the urban landscape. Keep an eye out.
Though it might not be initially obvious, the basis for a lot of my research is the art/science divide. The strong Western emphasis on science and technology has created a sort of hierarchy of knowledge where the social sciences and the arts are often perceived as being of less value and importance. This bias for reasoning over feeling is not particularly new. Just ask the ancient Greeks. Yet, these divides persist between and even within disciplines. Quantitative research is often favoured, for example, over the qualitative in the social sciences.
My research in the past has examined how these divides impact our ability to understand and cope with environmental problems. In the context of my current work on graffiti and street art, this duality has relevance as well. Mix this divide with a little capitalism and graffiti and street art don’t fare particularly well (unless of course it can be monetized). This book The Master and his Emissary Iain McGilchrist is a recent addition to my growing list of books to read and explores just how the left-side of the brain has dominated Western society.
One quickly snapped photograph on my mobile phone after doing some groceries has inspired a paper proposal for the upcoming conference Ecological Challenges. I was struck unexpectedly by the juxtaposition between the advertising that is framed and legal and the graffiti that is, well, illegal. It raises some interesting questions on how we prioritise images in urban space. Is the legitimacy of advertising dominating public space a reflection of what the city or society values?
When I explain my research studying illegal graffiti and street art, many people ask how do I know something is illegal and how do I know something is art. These are difficult questions and the answers I tend to give are not always especially satisfying. The truth is, you don’t always know. According to art critic and philosopher Arthur C. Danto in his recently published book What art is (2013), there is “a difference between being art and knowing whether something is art”. With that thought in mind, I present some photographs of the masking tape (artist) in Oslo.
8th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research (ICCPR2014), Session ‘Art and Sustainability’
University of Hildesheim
Hildesheim, Germany (September 2014)
Recent discourse in environmental philosophy suggests that art in varying forms can help create awareness, and even regard, for the natural environment. This is generally discussed with respect to specific forms of art such as landscape painting and land art and is specific to the natural environment. Using photographic and psychogeographic methods, this research explores graffiti and street art in three Norwegian cities: Bergen, Oslo, and Stavanger and examines how such art can similarly create awareness and appreciation for the urban environment.
2012 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers
Wilfred Laurier University and University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Canada (May/June 2012)
Using visual and psychogeographic methodologies, this research explores the diversity and ephemeral nature of street art in several Montréal neighbourhoods: Griffintown, Mile End, Plateau Mont-Royal, and St-Henri. This research reveals a richness of street art, highlighting the diversity of creativity within a subculture often maligned and misunderstood.
American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting 2012, Session ‘Spacing the Arts: Exploring Geographies of Public Art from Within’
New York City, USA (February 2012)
Public art takes on many forms, from temporary interventions to permanent installations. Such works are generally officially sanctioned and funded publicly through governments and situated in spaces accessible to public viewing. Unlike other public art, street art is not only accessible to the public, but also created by the public. Despite this, street art has had a tenuous place in discourse on public art, likely due to its informality, transience, and unpredictability.
Animation of Public Space through the Arts: Innovation and Sustainability
University of Coimbra
Coimbra, Portugal (September 2011)
Textile graffiti is a form of public art emerging from the recent resurgence in textile crafts and rooted in the graffiti subculture of the 1980s. Textile graffiti comprises a variety of creative interventions in public spaces, including guerrilla crochet, invasive lace, and yarn bombing. These creative intrusions provide a colourful juxtaposition between textiles and elements of the urban landscape. Textile graffiti artists work in a variety of ways; knitting wool around trees, implanting thread into the cracks of sidewalks, and using fences as a substrate for needlework. Whether intentional or not, these artists are making commentaries about urban environments and the beautification of urban spaces through their work.