Drips Gallery: A Community-Driven Graffiti Library and Archive

Drips Gallery: A Community-Driven Graffiti Library and Archive

Alexandra Lederman (Drips Gallery, USA) and Farah Jindani (Drips Gallery, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2676-6.ch011
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This paper explores the possibilities of using digital technologies in an archival setting. The hypothesis examined and investigated was: street art can be preserved and archived through archival websites and mobile applications. In order to explore this problem a community driven digital archive, Drips Gallery, was created. Drips Gallery is a new archive consisting of graffiti photograph collections and is available through a website and mobile app. The database, website, and mobile app was created, coded, and programmed specifically for the archival and community needs of Drips Gallery. Drips Gallery allows the community to drive the archive and changes the role of the archivist from record keeper to facilitator. By creating an archival mobile app and website, new and immediate ways of capturing and preserving culture as it is being created and consumed is now possible.
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Designedly displayed yet outlawed and elusive, graffiti is more complex than scrawled drawings and painted letters on city buildings and streets. It is a representation of a neighborhood; a voice of its inhabitants speaking to the public, to each other, and to themselves. Graffiti is a worldwide subculture. It is political activism. It is art. Although the concept of graffiti dates back as far as Ancient Egypt, the art movement developed its roots and notoriety in 1970s New York City. Strategically glazed over subway cars were canvasses that travelled from the neighborhoods throughout the city. As city officials labored over the whitewashing of vandalism, advertisers adopted the style to sell clothes and music. The art form became popular and trendy. Since then, graffiti has evolved into a more accepted and often commissioned form of art. Walls around the city have been adopted for intricate murals, paintings are sold in galleries, books and documentaries on the subject are available, and all in homage to street sign scribbles. It’s clear that from the birth of the movement to its current place in culture, graffiti has tremendous archival value. There are countless reasons why graffiti should be preserved including its role in art history and New York City, the socioeconomic connotations, the political stance, the effect on consumer culture, the controversy, and the acceptance. Of course, this is no easy task for archivists as graffiti is a transient street art. For the most part, graffiti is fleeting, constantly changing. Graffiti artists take risk with their art, exposing it to the world without knowing how many people will see it and how long it will survive. Thus, this radical type of art requires an unconventional, proactive archival approach. The best way for archivists to document graffiti would be to apply the technology that matches the mobile nature of this movement as well as rely on participation from the community.

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