Exposure for Moderns

Buford Youthward

Modern Graffiti begins, grows and disappears because frustrated individuals bypass the world of official expression and the festivals of its poverty. Graffiti is mystery and mischief. That is why it is attractive. When the music starts and the forbidden dance begins, many assumptions are trampled and the sense of seeing things as they are, not as they seem, emerges.

The duty of the graffiti writer is to expose the true appearance of modern experience, to explain how the nightmare works in order to wake everyone up. Mass media, computers, transport systems and advanced technology control the very condition of existence. The world we see is not the real world but the world we are conditioned to see. We all are part of the audience looking at the show but we aren't thinking like spectators. And that is what we have become because we have been conned into substituting material things for actual experiences. The goal of mass culture, the consumer and modern commodity society is to alienate and keep us apart.

When it gets too tough and the wanton rebel breaks through the situation, a recouping mechanism shifts into place, resisting the attack, creating new roles, cultural forms and encouraging the participation in the constructing of the world of our own alienation into the bargain. This mechanism acts like a safety net under the current condition.

For example the Modern Graffiti lifestyle has been turned into commodity. You can bet on the lifestyle becoming safely recouped (it already has) and time will pass. Rest assured it will be dusted off and sold back in the future, inducing a yearning for the past. That is how the vicious cycle turns. And for those bored with the possession of mere things, there is the added bonus of packaging the possession of experiences, your favorite flavor becomes a manageable sense of event. There is nothing mysterious about pop culture, it is completely calculated and considered.

This is all reasoning to justify why Modern Graffiti begins where Art ends. Art works to maintain the condition, an artist believes their mission is to enrich life. Conversely, the graffiti writer is on a mission to uncover life, to test the restraints. The graffiti writer begins this journey by (re)creating themselves as product. During the process many of the lies and walls that have blocked visibility come crashing down and falling apart.

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