Anonymous: Graffiti in Pump Lane, Galway

Martin Butler

Graffiti is “writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place.” Oxford Dictionary.

The above image, photographed by me on 12.10.12, is a segment of graffiti situated in Pump Lane, Galway. The photograph goes someway to contextualizing it but there was no frame of reference to begin with. By photographing it I have given it another form and taken it from its original context.  I have essentially remixed somebody else’s expression. The photograph of the art actually frames the art of two different artists with two distinctive individual styles. This lack of borders has its own effect on each piece of graffiti.  There is no firm delineating structure around either one and they effectively run into each other. A person viewing this art would not have planned to view art in the same way as somebody who intentionally enters into an art gallery, thus giving the art another context again. But whether art is in a gallery or on a wall outside a gallery can be appreciated if it is good art, however subjective good art is as a concept.

The pieces of art pictured were created with no known commercial motives in mind, art for arts sake, with a public wall serving as a gallery. For the casual viewer there is no way of knowing any information about the piece or the artist except what is seen on the wall. The artists could be expressing anything and the viewer could interpret it to be anything; the notion of free art works both ways. In the same way it does not cost anything to view it also is not for sale, the concept of a market for art is bypassed. In the same way that there is no commercial aspect to this particular work there is also a resignation to the process of time in relation to the work. Once the art is completed the artist exerts no control over its continued process of existence, it is created with the certainty that it will cease to exist in the near future.

Another aspect of graffiti is the lack of a border or of a formal frame; the art has to contend for attention with its surroundings. This competition might go some way towards explaining why such bright and arresting colors are used in the creation of a piece of graffiti. With traditional art the picture frame directs and controls the viewers’ attention but with graffiti there is no such direction of the viewers awareness. In relation to sequential art and the use of framing Will Eisner observed; “They (frames) are controlling devices” 41 This is true also in relation to art with no boundary, there is nothing to direct and hold the viewers attention in place and so the only thing to attract attention is the visual strength of the art itself. With no controlling device present the art can be appreciated in relation to the elements with which it was created, life.

Eisner, Will. Comics and Sequental Art. 2008. New York London: Norton, n.d. Print.

“Graffiti (graffiti) Definition of Graffiti. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. <http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/graffiti&gt;.


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