Google’s Street Art Project is a Step in the Right Direction for Graffiti

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Google’s Paris-based Cultural Institute has recently launched a database called the Street Art Project. This initiative features street art from across the globe, much of which no longer exists. Working alongside various cultural organizations worldwide, and putting to use their very own Street View, the Cultural Institute and subsequent Street Art Project is making these public works increasingly more public, democratizing art, and chronicling it’s contemporary impact for the future. It’s one of those projects that makes Google hard not to love.

 

The Google Cultural Institute, founded in 2011, is composed of a staff around 30 engineers. It’s a project that’s documenting the physical and bringing it to the web for the public to access. They want users to be able to view the Art Projects, Historical Moments, and World Wonders that have shaped our world, from the comfort of your home. As of now, they’ve already helped create online archives for historic figures, such as Nelson Mandela, or used Street View to provide renderings of World Heritage sites. But what really grabs my attention is the focus they’re placing on graffiti—handling it with the respect and admiration that is traditionally associated with works found in museums or on gallery walls.

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“I’m not treating street art as anything different from what I would do with the Impressionist collection I’m getting on Art Project,” said Amit Sood, director of the Cultural Institute. The Street Art Project is sister to the Art Project, another Cultural Institute initiative that has provided technical support to more than 460 museums and helped in bringing their collections to the web for all to see.

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The Street Art Project is searchable by artists, city, genre and other categories. Not only does it consist of current art viewable in the public, but it also documents much of which that doesn’t exist anymore. Of the 30 institutions that have furnished the platform with images is the Museum of the City of New York; the Dallas Contemporary; Living Walls: The City Speaks in Atlanta; and the Museum of Street Art in France.

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On one side, Google is helping bring street art to a more respectable level. On the other, it’s perpetuating what street art already encompasses, that is public art in the public space. The New York Times encapsulates this in stating, “Google is formalizing what street art fans around the world already do: take pictures of city walls and distribute them on social media.” It’s an effort to make art more available to viewers, a public domain gone more public, and it’s fascinating to see it happen thanks to the developments of technology and the culture-bridging, border-crossing abilities of the internet.

 

Shepard Fairey stated that, “I’ve always used my street art to democratize art, so it would be philosophically inconsistent for me to protest art democratization through Google.” Street art often comes with a bad rep, where people have a hard time distinguishing it from vandalism.

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Lois Stavsky, who runs Street Art NYC says that most artists like the idea of of enabling more people to view their work. Especially the Street Art Project’s potential to preserve work. Take 5Pointz for example, the famous NYC graffiti landmark that was whitewashed last year. Working alongside the Cultural Institute, Stavsky sorted through hundreds of 5Pointz photos to uploaded several to Google’s new platform—making a location available to thousands that otherwise would’ve never had the opportunity to see.

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As is expected from a company like Google, the platform itself is designed to utilize the web’s functions and perform smoothly. It’s intuitive and features a bunch of interesting features, from documentaries to dipping into street view to have a look at building’s interiors. Perhaps the most innovative feature is a special camera they used to document certain pieces (such as VHILS who’s famous for sculpting work into walls), allowing users to zoom in and take a closer look in stunning clarity.

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Nick Partyka

June 26, 2014 / By

Ai Weiwei Returns with TASCHEN Monograph and Brooklyn Exhibition

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2014 brings forth two reminders that Ai Weiwei hasn’t disappeared… Yet. Working in collaboration with esteemed publishers, TASCHEN, Weiwei has put together the first comprehensive monograph of his life’s work. The release is a testament to Ai’s legacy as an artist and activist. When you’re done browsing the book, you can see his work in person at the Brooklyn Museum, which is host to Ai Weiwei: According to What? that marks the last leg of the artist’s wildly successful show.

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Nick Partyka

June 9, 2014 / By

‘My Famicase Exhibition’ Turns Video Games into Art for its Tenth Year

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It’s that time of year when Tokyo based game culture shop METEOR hosts their annual My Famiscase Exhibition, an art show unlike any other, featuring custom Nintendo Entertainment System cartridge designs. Entrants not only design original artwork, but also the creative concept behind the imagined video game. This year’s show marks the exhibitions 10th year and features talent from across the globe. It’s an interesting mishmash of video game culture and design with a unique twist on the traditional gallery experience.

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Nick Partyka

May 14, 2014 / By

‘The Endangered Song’ with Portugal. The Man is Saving Tigers by Going Extinct

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Can creativity change the world? Advertising agency DDB NY would like to think so, as demonstrated in their new campaign for the Smithsonian National Zoo, the Endangered Song. In an effort to spread awareness of the less than 400 Sumatran Tigers left in the world, the two teamed up with rock band Portugal. The Man to manufacture and record a song. Not just any ol’song, but one created to go extinct, unless digitally reproduced. It’s a wholly clever solution, reminding us of creativity’s importance and influence. I was afforded the opportunity to pick the brains of the two creatives behind it all to find out more. Continue reading this post…

Nick Partyka

May 2, 2014 / By

‘Watermark’ is a Documentary Unlike Any You’ve Ever Seen Before

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Water. It covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. It’s vital for all known forms of life. It’s pure, it’s beautiful, and it’s awfully artistic, as seen in its leading role within Watermark, a documentary exploring “the extent to which humanity has shaped water, and how it has shaped us.” It’s the result of taking two award-winning documentary directors, Jennifer Bachiwal and Nick de Pencier, and soaking them with renowned Canadian photographer, Edward Burtynsky. While living beautifully on the big screen, this film can just as easily find a home on a gallery wall. It’s an amazingly produced documentary that’s excels in every category of film making, combining several elements to ultimately transform the way you think about water and your relationship to it.

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Nick Partyka

April 22, 2014 / By

Stunning Air France Ads are Ready for Take Off

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This week, Air France unveils its new campaign, “Air France, France is in the air.” The French agency behind it all, BETC, has slowly but surely been revealing the campaign with a series of posters. Featuring the amazing photography of Sofia & Mauro, bold design, and palettes to make any color-lover swoon, it’s a strong move in the right direction for the brand, and a reminder that advertising’s not so bad when it’s beautiful.

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Nick Partyka

April 3, 2014 / By

Hyper Light Drifter is the Next Stylish Indie Game to Have on Your Radar

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Last week Bobby covered Firewatch, an upcoming indie game backed by a ‘holy trinity’ of game development. It’s sure-to-be-gorgeous-design reminded me of another beautiful up & coming game that I’ve had on my radar: Hyper Light Drifter. Video games are a huge passion of mine, and I’m not quick to gush over a title (especially one that I haven’t had the opportunity to play). Yet, here I am, gushing. In a world of increasingly creative and imaginative indie games, Heart Machine’s Hyper Light Drifter already stands out as one of the shining pillars of gameplay, art direction, and design.

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Nick Partyka

March 26, 2014 / By

Mondo’s Disney Exhibition Brings Art Back into the Movie Poster

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Editor’s note: I work for Disney and the division that helped create the art show, but I had no part in this post, nor was there any money or funny business involved. Just saying.

The movie poster is dead. Remember the times of hand-drawn studio posters that possessed a creativity rivaling that of the films they represented? Neither do I. Or at least these would be the words I’d be spouting if not for Austin based Mondo. Last week, in collaboration with Oh My Disney, Mondo unveiled their most recent exhibition, Nothing’s Impossible! A homage to the beloved Disney classics we all cherished growing up (or, most likely, still do). Their gallery was filled with works inspired by the films and characters of Disney, featuring Mondo’s most talented recurring artists.

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Nick Partyka

March 19, 2014 / By

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