Continuing the thread about the '76 graf doc WATCHING MY NAME GO BY

Continuing the discussion from Watch a short 1976 documentary about the NYC graffiti scene:

hey, I just got around to watching but the thread was closed.

I know CRASH from the Subway Art book but I didn’t know he was on Livewire, which I remember watching and liking. Did they really interview him about writing graf for a kid’s show?

Anyhow, I liked the bit with the woman’s voice-over who explained that she greatly enjoyed being surprised by the whole-car pieces, likening them to a decorated birthday cake. Totally agree, although the piecing techniques and letters had not quite gotten to where they needed to be yet. The hand styles (with markers, calligraphy-style) from the writers who were any good were already excellent, though. but as with anything, 99% of it was crap. and remains so, although the evolution of style seems like it may have reined-in some of the worst toys out of embarrassment. just a theory.


Yes, they really interviewed him. The Showtime documentary had a bit at the end about how Crash and other artists were being given studio space and materials to create works on canvas rather than subway cars and walls. It was a way for some of them to avoid going to jail, which blew my mind. These people were dedicated. They would rather go to jail than not create art. And I also thought, people are being jailed for painting a wall. That’s a huge waste of time and money. It also seemed like the artists were in a catch-22: to get into the studio they had to prove themselves on the street, but to do that they’d be at risk of being jailed.

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right on.
to you and anyone else who may check in on this thread, I would like to make two recommendations. They’re the standard, entry-level recs, but if you haven’t seen them, they’re IMO the ones that present graf the best to a general audience:

the Chalfont/Cooper book Subway Art is a fantastic visual record of what the writers could really do in at the apex of style conventions coupled with the city still not having their shit totally together to thwart them. Chalfont was a sculptor who took pictures of the whole-cars as a fan of the art, the writers introduced themselves due to his sincerity. Cooper was a professional anthropologist working as a photojournalist. Her photos were of the kids in action and her writing is neutral and unbiased. There’s a newer, oversized edition that takes out all her writing and because of that I cannot recommend it except as a companion to the original. the photos in the new edition are better, and the the new interviews are nice, but it doesn’t explain the phenomenon like the original:

Chalfont also had input on the film documentary Style Wars, which–content aside–was very ahead of its time as a piece of filmmaking, so it is enjoyable to a lay-person as well as a hip hop or graf person. the DVD release has an excellent menu with extra content and “where are they now” bits that are all triggered by buttons that are the actual writer’s tags. very dope, very well packaged. But there’s full versions of it on youtube right now, I’m sure.

I love this WMNGB doc–which I had never even heard of before–to see the infancy of the phenomenon, but also it shows a majority of white writers. As anonymous names on walls, a racist can assume it’s all done by “the other,” but it’s always been a lot of 'round the way honkies getting up.

All-out king SEEN as photographed by Cooper. An early throwie of his is briefly featured in WMNGB

The idea of tagging is really just the memification and gamification of the phenomenon of “Bobby loves Billie” found on the most prominent road overpasses throughout the midwest and etc.

“it’s like a virus…”

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