WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Art at your feet


While there's a lot going on around the Buckle St section of the bypass, Karo Drive itself is going to take a long time to integrate into the texture of the city (sad, empty buildings don't help). Some citizens have taken things into their own hands and decided to give that most anonymous and downtrodden of icons, the pedestrian walkway pictogram, a bit of individuality.

Modified pictograms beside Karo DriveI think these are clever, playful and creative, and make a small but significant step towards humanising the asphalt deserts of Karo Drive without sacrificing the legibility of the original. But not everyone thinks so. Over on solidstate's Flickr stream, there's been a bit of debate about whether these are art or vandalism: some graffiti is clearly both, but in this case I really can't see a downside. To my eyes, Emo Walker, Dressing-gown Walker, All Black Walker and Windy Walker aren't destruction of private property so much as unsolicited improvements to the public realm. As solidstate so eloquently puts it, "A city is a work forever in progress, forever built on the additions of others".

10 Comments:

At 1:54 AM, July 31, 2007, Blogger bioneural said...

Well, after participating in said debate I now see things differently. Why, just this weekend I saw some artists who were busy attempting to enhance public and private property. They considered that stones raining from the Vivian St over-bridge onto traffic below would be amusing and soften the harsh smoothness of the tarmac, perhaps hoping that shards of windshield glass would glitter like stars in the light of the street lamps. They further decided that a nearby cable cover would look less formal if it was "modified" so as not to be perpendicular to the curb. This effect was offset by a section of chain-link fence re-positioned to look as if it was randomly flung aside, again a bold statement designed no doubt to draw attention to the fact that the urban landscape is far too perpendicular for its own good. And to think that before my eyes were opened I would have mere considered them delinquent... long live vandalism!

 
At 8:42 AM, July 31, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

I think most people wouldn't find it too hard to distinguish between using paint to bring some personality to the streets and chucking rocks at cars.

 
At 9:54 AM, July 31, 2007, Blogger stephen said...

Dude should write for Artbash, already.

 
At 10:40 AM, July 31, 2007, Blogger Baz said...

Don't you see, Tom? Street art is just the top of a slippery slope that leads inexorably to more serious crimes like theft, assault, murder, and file-sharing.

Art is crime's gateway drug! Just say no!

 
At 6:59 PM, July 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think its cool! I definitely see it as art and not vandalism.

 
At 7:53 PM, July 31, 2007, Anonymous erentz said...

Truely nice work. It's nice seeing a bit of colour and humour such as this as opposed to a perfectly sterile streetscape.

Someone should give Windy Walker a bit of a clean tho, looks like a herd of cattle just wandered through...

 
At 10:04 PM, July 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

New York used to be known as the place to be if one was creative and experimental, and the street art was one component of that. Then Rudy Guliuni took the helm, "cleaned up" the place and now the city is as contrived and sterile as your typical shopping mall.

Give me litter and graffiti any day over boring corporate banality.

 
At 9:07 AM, August 01, 2007, Blogger Evad Rehtona said...

Rudy Guliuni took the helm, "cleaned up" the place and now the city is as contrived and sterile as your typical shopping mall.

At least you don't get mugged any more, and the subway is now a dream to ride.

Seriously, there is nothing "sterile" about NYC, one of the most dynamic cities on earth IMO.

 
At 9:18 AM, August 01, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

If you want sterile, try Las Vegas. I once spent a couple of weeks there, based in a townhouse complex way off in the southern suburbs, and couldn't quite work out what was bothering me about the place (apart from the obvious tackiness, SUV infestation and absence of public transport). It wasn't until I got to London that I worked it out: Vegas suburbs are just too damn clean! Sure, the streets of London stank and were full of rubbish and graffiti, but it felt like a real, dynamic city rather than a collection of gated communities and golf courses. Of course, it helped that I'd moved to Spitalfields, which was Banksy central at the time, so the street art was of an amazingly high standard.

 
At 10:14 AM, August 01, 2007, Anonymous erentz said...

Yes! I had a similar problem once when I was staying in an exurban sprawling suburb in SoCal for 6 weeks. Most american suburbs are like that... My mood was seriously affected, I just felt down. And everytime I managed to get into the city and walk some grid shaped blocks on some cracked and dirty sidewalks it picked my mood up.

I remember this place had one 6 lane road leading out of the suburb (here we'd've had a 2 lane road and it'd have sufficed) with the standard concrete sidewalk beside it, and another winding "dirt" path beside that which weaved in a perfectly symmetrical fashion for people to walk there dogs on... it was perfectly symmetrical! ugh!

 

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