Subway Tunnel Of Desire

Buford Youthward

To what extent does poetry and graffiti exist within cinema? Film can be tagged poetic, poetry cinematic, and graffiti too has cinematic and poetic qualities. Terms apply, get hired, promoted and fired at will. Language is a shotgun, a double-barrel surprise like graffiti gleaming in a subway tunnel of desire.

Embracing ironic fragments of language is an exercise in confirming the negative, for instance, the term, masterpiece. In graffiti vernacular, it's a funny misstep. For how can something in the realm of spontaneity, in the moment, be perfect. Which of course is what we think when we throw notions and words like masterpiece around. Graffiti has its fine qualities but perfection is not one of them. Graffiti is a flawed masterpiece.

Immediate communication characterizes all good graffiti and our sense of graffiti, our attraction to graffiti, shows that graffiti is in the depth of our being. It's behind the working of something universal. And like poetry, sometimes graffiti can be one of life's greatest objects. Graffiti communicates in our dreams, transfers to our cities.

Cities are by nature centers of noise. To be heard, to deny refusal is heroic and daft. Magnified vulnerabilities and maximized exposure make for marginal existence. Ad hoc auteurs display and displace care.

The medium is the moment. And that's the matter waiting for a situation. Mythology in the making. Language becomes past due, renewed and checked out again, stimulating the cycle of explanation.

We gaze at screens in large darkened shoe boxes, caught in a cineplex complex. Mystery is captured on reels, loaded on projectors as we project ourselves from where we are, who we are. The audience becomes author by way of completing the process, sustaining and maintaining the experience.

What makes a film poetic, a poem cinematic, is partly the extent of active participation one brings to the work. On a bad day, graffiti has the public perception of passivity. But accepted in the right context in the right moment, it arouses transcendence.

The strategic flash of light, the tactical use of language, provides for a great science of illusion. We find that surfaces are merely a palette on which to innovate. Sometimes the vehicles for innovation and projection are car jacked on condensed stretches of active turbulence and tortured compliance. But your mileage may vary.

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