|January 14, 2012 | WORDS||Posted by James Watkins||
Street art and graffiti are as old God and the first perfect examples of humanity he graced our fair planet with. It is the understanding of most religious scholars, that Adam pieced the walls of the Garden of Eden with a giant cock and balls, which through the misinterpretation and misrepresentation of historians, spiralled into the myths and legends about a mystical, evil "serpent", that offended Adam's Dad and in the process corrupted men for all time. Of course, this only goes back a few thousand years, and the creative manipulation of our surroundings and the symbolising and recording of what we see has been around for at least thirty thousand trips around the sun, from the time when we were living in caves and scratching motifs into the walls – whilst we were still barely distinguishable from apes.
In slightly more modern times, remains of street art have been traced back to stone etchings in the side of Roman buildings encouraging the use of one of mans other oldest pastimes, prostitution. There is still traces of European Viking graffiti, and the Chinese, Mayans, Persians and virtually every major ancient civilisation left traces of uncommissioned expression behind. Even the great Renaissance painters Raphael and Michelangelo felt obliged to leave their mark when they ventured into the ruins of Nero's Domus Aurea.
'Graffiti', used in it's original form, is the plural of the word 'graffito', which is a term used in achaeology to describe "an ancient drawing or writing scratched on a wall or other surface". We've come along way since humans needed to create a word to describe scratches on ancient ruins and now a lot of peoples ideas and ideals associated with grafitti or street art resonate from the epicentre that was New York hip-hop culture in the 1980's. Whilst some of the initial sentiments and intentions are still in effect today, street art has now transcended its archaeological and hip hop roots and has become embraced by the art world as a valid and important means of expression. As an artistic medium it has become virtually ubiquitous in every city, town or village where there is walls and willing practitioners wanting to express themselves.
Street art is now a world wide phenomenon, with more and more people taking up the pastime every day – utilising aerosols, markers, paint, chisels, stencils, pasteups and virtually anything they can their hands on. The creative energy and resistance to our conditioned state of minds, radiates from all the major creative metropolises on the globe, with New York, LA, Berlin, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Rome, London, Bristol, Paris and São Paulo regarded as some of the most well decorated, celebrated and influential cities.
The rise of digital photography and the viral nature of the internet has led to a myriad of websites celebrating and perpetuating street art culture. Unurth.com is our favourite, it constantly features the biggest, most progressive, intelligently political, graphic, intricate, funny and involved examples street art from the world's highest profile, most daring and successful street artists. Run and curated by Sebastian Buck, the website is a categoric and constantly evolving what's what, where's where and who's who of contemporary street art, and unarguably one of the best and most comprehensive collections of street art online.
Here, I featured a mere slice of what the site has to offer, with links back to the artists portfolios on Unurth if you want to further explore some of your favourite artists. Scroll down, absorb, and enjoy the result of over thirty thousand years worth of evolution of one of the most ancient and accesible forms of expression known to man.
Shark Toof (with Case)
Escif, Ghosts, Bilbao - 'Transformation of 1 gram of crack into a ghost'
Iemza, Reims – France
Jana + JS, Strasbourg – France
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