Archive for the 'Visual literacy' Category

Weaving the Streets & People’s History Archive

What is our “people’s history archive of street culture” going to look like?

Street culture is a ubiquitous form of expression that resists easy definition. Our people’s history archive of street culture will document the creative and complex ways in which ordinary people make use of public space. For our project, city-based street culture includes but is not limited to public performances, graffiti, painted murals, neighborhood gardens, parks, urban reclamation projects, political demonstrations, and any other public gatherings. Other suburban and/or rural “ground up” initiatives, such as farm-to-fork community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects, could also be represented in our people’s history archive. The challenge will be to find physical, hand-held materials that document these sorts of activities that we can scan and add to the digital archive. Many forms of street culture are ephemeral in nature, which creates a methodological challenge to collecting materials and reminds us why it is important to gather them before they are lost, forgotten, or destroyed.

Like archives elsewhere, our people’s history archive of street culture will represent and/or reveal the interests and values of societies, cultures, and/or subcultures from which the materials in the archive are drawn. However, materials in an archive of street culture will also undoubtedly reflect values that include commitments to civil rights, social justice, equity, and fairness for the greater good of all members of a population. A people’s history archive will put an emphasis on the benefits of shared or collaborative endeavors over actions and activities geared toward corporate, commercial, or self-interests.

Our people’s history archive of street culture will likely represent populist and democratic ideals. A populist, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people.” A democracy invites equal participation from all of its citizens and strives to make it possible for every individual to live up to his or her potential. Those who have fostered populist ideas in the United States include the historian and author Studs Terkel and the songwriter and musician Pete Seeger.

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Our people’s history archive of street culture will likely have a certain folksy quality, too, in the style of folk traditions, meaning items in the archive would be home-made, low-tech, low brow, do-it-yourself, free, and publicly available. Items would be one-of-a-kind or created in small numbers.

Our people’s history archive could include announcements, flyers, leaflets, posters, or broadsides for events that bring people together, such as community dinners, town hall gatherings, music concerts, or union, school, or church meetings. Other forms of creative expression, such as zines, stickers, and silkscreened cloth patches sewn on clothing or knapsacks could also be included. Sheila Murray ’15 picked up this small card from Café Oteca, an owner-managed coffee shop in San José, Costa Rica, in the spring of 2014. From what she told me, one can buy a drink for someone else by writing a note and pinning it to the wall in a sort of “pay-it-forward” community connection project. It would be great fun to go in, read someone’s note over a café latte, and then buy a cup of java for the next person.

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“Found” items could be handwritten notes or even something like this playing card that Raina Puels ’16 picked up in NYC last fall. I’m curious to hear how she will describe it for our Street Art Graphics digital archive.

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Examples of Other Citizen-Based Archives Projects

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has created a Citizen Archivist Dashboard that allows registered users the ability to tag images, edit and transcribe texts, and upload and share their own materials. The NARA mission is “to provide public access to Federal Government records in our custody and control. Public access to government records strengthens democracy by allowing Americans to claim their rights of citizenship, hold their government accountable, and understand their history so they can participate more effectively in their government.”

The Triangle Open Archive offers several features and functionalities in keeping with our people’s archive of street culture project. The Triangle Fire Open Archive explores “the personal, political and historical legacy of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire [in New York City] through community-contributed objects … that critically connect to issues of immigrant, women’s and labor rights.” Items are categorized by “People,” “Politics & Activism,” “Cultural Response,” and “Memorial.”

Europeana uses Historypin (“a global community collaborating around history”) for a project called Europeana 1989 that allows contributors to add photos, videos, audio files, and written stories to a collection of materials related to the fall of the Iron Curtain in Central and Eastern Europe. According to the Web site, “The project aims to create a vivid and complete picture of the revolutionary events in Europe with stories, photos, videos and sound recordings from every country affected. Personal stories, memories and experiences can help others to better understand what it was like and to see events from a different perspective. By collecting personal memorabilia and stories from this period, and combining it with institutional collections, we aim to create an engaging user experience.”

The People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting, based out of Dublin, Ireland, and San Francisco, California, is “a collection of materials contributed by people living in places that may disappear because of the combined physical, political, and economic impacts of climate change, primarily sea level rise, erosion, desertification, and glacial melting. Together, through common but differentiated collections, they form an archive of what will have been.”

The People’s Archive of Rural India documents “the everyday lives of everyday people.” The Web site is under construction, but categories include “things we do,” “things we make,” “farming and its crisis,” “faces,” “women,” “the rural in the urban,” “adivasis” (“first dwellers”), and many other topics.

Initially based out of the United Kingdom, a Peoples Archive grew out of a Science Archive project that originally video recorded the autobiographical life stories of famous scientists. This Peoples Archive expanded to include stories about the lives of famous authors, filmmakers, artists, and others. In 2008, it evolved into the Web of Stories, which today features thousands of stories from the international public on a wide range of channels such as “Love,” “War,” “Ageing and Death,” and “Inspiration and Innovation.”

The Paisley People’s Archive from Paisley, Scotland, is “a community-based project which focuses on the city’s social history of industrial heritage and related leisure activities. Consisting of digitally recorded oral history interviews, archival research, and old and new images, the Archive recreates Paisley’s history as remembered by its people.”

New course proposal for “Street Art Graphics” digital archive project

The pegatinas writing assignment with Marina Llorente and the Weaving the Streets & People’s Archive project with John Collins have both gone so well that I’ve decided to develop a new course proposal that would offer students the opportunity to conduct research and write about street art stickers and ephemera related to street culture for the Street Art Graphics digital archive. One of the biggest game changers for the archive is that I’m trying to convince SLU to convert from ContentDM to Artstor Shared Shelf, a Web-based cataloguing and image management software system that would provide several improvements. In addition to higher quality image presentation, the Artstor cataloguing tool includes a vocabulary warehouse so that artists’ names, geographic locations, and subject headings are automatically linked to authority records from the Library of Congress and the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, among others. Metadata schemas are highly customizable, as are different user roles for collaborative cataloguing. Artstor will also store and back up all of our source images for long-term, off-site preservation. Most important, however, is the fact that Shared Shelf allows users to publish content directly to the Web through Shared Shelf Commons, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Omeka, Google, and other outlets. This last feature is what is most exciting. Despite how well Artstor presents images, I have avoided using it up until now because content is available only to paid subscribers (not very democratic of them, is it?). With Shared Shelf Commons, however, we could share our digital content freely with everyone in keeping with St. Lawrence University’s open access policies.

Here is what I have so far for the course overview and the initial list of required readings. Now I have to put together the assignments and the weekly schedule and submit this puppy to the art & art history department for their approval. Fingers crossed in advanced!

Street Art Graphics & People’s Archive Course Overview

This course offers students the opportunity to conduct research and write about street art graphics for an online digital archive available on St. Lawrence University’s Richard F. Brush Art Gallery Web site (http://www.stlawu.edu/gallery/digitalcollections/streetartgraphics.php) and on Artstor Shared Shelf Commons, a free, open access international digital image library of arts and sciences (http://www.sscommons.org/openlibrary/welcome.html#1). The Street Art Graphics & People’s Archive is based primarily on contemporary street art stickers and ephemera related to street culture from countries around the world, including Canada, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Indonesia, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States. Topics addressed include animal rights, consumer capitalism, environment, football, gender and sexuality, labor, police brutality, political protests, racism, social justice, and surveillance, among others. The course enables students to use real world examples of street art culture to understand current global issues and to be part of writing history through citizen journalism. Incorporating critical thinking and visual/media literacies, students will learn how to annotate images, hone their writing skills, and contribute their work to a vibrant and unique digital image archive. A digital geo-mapping project at the end of the semester will further contextualize items in the archive.

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Selected Readings

Burkeman, DB, and Monica LoCascio. Stickers: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art. New York: Rizzoli, 2010. Print.

Chaffee, Lyman G., Political Protest and Street Art: Popular Tools for Democratization in Hispanic Countries. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993. Print. Chapter 1: pages 3-22; Chapter 3: pages 37-52.

Clough, Alice. Combating Urban Disengagement? Stickers as a Form of Street Art. London: University College London Department of Anthropology Working Paper 09/2011. Print.

Ferrante, Julia. ‘Street art’ provides context for understanding cities. 20 July 2011. Web.

Gregory, Lua, and Shana Higgins, eds. Information Literacy and Social Justice: Radical Professional Praxis. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press, 2013. Print.

Irvine, Martin. “The Work on the Street: Street Art and Visual Culture” in The Handbook of Visual Culture. London/New York: Berg. 2012. Print.

Leckie, Gloria J, Lisa M. Given, and John E. Buschman, eds. Critical Theory for Library and Information Science. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. 2010. Print. (Chapters include “Transformative Library Pedagogy and Community-Based Libraries: A Freiran Perspective” by Martina Riedler and Mustafas Yunus Eryaman and “The Public Library as a Space for Democratic Empowerment: Henry Giroux, Radical Democracy, and Border Pedagogy” by Mustafas Yunus Eryaman.)

Morrone, Melissa, ed. Informed Agitation: Library and Information Skills in Social Justice Movements and Beyond. Sacramento: Library Juice Press, 2014. Print. (Chapters include “Whatcha Doin’ After the Demo? The Importance of Archiving Political Posters” by Vince Teetart; “To Spread the Revolution: Anarchist Archives and Libraries” by Jessica Moran; “Building an Archive from Below: Reflections from Interference Archive” by Molly Fair; “Librarian Is My Occupation: A History of the People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street” by Jaime Taylor and Zachary Loeb; and “Why Archive? and Other Important Questions Asked by Occupy Wall Street” by Sian Evans, Anna Perricci, and Amy Roberts.)

Pollock, Caitlin M. J., and Andrea Battleground. A Gallery for the Outlaw: Archiving the Art of the Iconoclast. Association of College and Research Libraries. 2013. Print.

Walker, Jill. Distributed Narrative: Telling Stories Across Networks. Bergen: University of Norway Department of Humanistic Informatics. 2004. Print.

Wallace, Margot. Writing for Museums. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. Print.

Zinn, Howard. “Secrecy, Archives, and the Public Interest.” The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy. New York City, NY: Seven Stories Press. 2011. Print.

Pegatinas writing assignment – featured SLU student research – Jamie Abraham ‘15

The fall 2013 pegatinas final writing writing assignment for Dr. Marina Llorente’s ESP 439 seminar Literatura, cine y cultura en la España contemporànea went really well. Having the students first annotate the images made a big difference. Students were also given the chance to submit preliminary drafts of their work to get feedback on their writing. The students who annotated images, conducted additional research, and revised their writing subsequently aced the assignment. During the upcoming week, I am going to post examples from several students to be able to show others this process of writing about stickers. Today’s featured student is Jamie Abraham ’15, and she gave permission to have her work included on Stickerkitty. She analyzed a group of stickers about environmental issues in Spain. Here are two.

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  1. Text: Safe? — Nuclear? — No, Thank You!
  2. Image: Skull disguised as nuclear power plant
  3. Logo: Joves d’esquerra verda, an environmental organization that focuses on the betterment of Cataluña and a youth sub-organization of the political party Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (Iniciativa por Cataluña Verdes).
  4. Link: joves.cat. Main website for Joves d’esquerra verda
  1. Texto: Segur? — Nuclears? — No, Gràcies!
  2. Imagen: Cráneo disfrazado como centrales eléctricas
  3. Logo: Joves d’esquerra verda, un grupo ecologista que enfoca en el ecosocialismo de Cataluña y es una sub-organización del partido político la Iniciativa por Cataluña Verdes.
  4. Enlace: joves.cat. Sitio de Joves d’esquerra verda

Description

This sticker was created by Joves d’esquerra verda. They provide a link to the interactive and informative Web site, and the organization’s logo is also presented on the sticker. The text Segur? translates to Safe?. Coupled with the image of a skull underneath the nuclear power machine illustrates the message that nuclear energy is not safe for citizens and will propose real issues for humans and the environment. A fifth of Spain’s energy is nuclear via seven power plants, with the recent closure of one in Garoña. This sticker highlights the lack of information provided by nuclear companies to citizens regarding issues of environmental and human health. However, it demonstrates the effort of a politically associated group, and more importantly a youth organization, that shows the proactivity of the younger generations. This sticker presents the widely translated phrase in opposition to nuclear energy Nuclears? No, gràcies. This indicates the large movement of regions refusing nuclear energy. The situation above ground seems innocuous; simple structures and blue skies suggest nothing is wrong. Segur? questions this appearance and underground the truth is revealed; the bold text No, gràcies is placed close to the skull to draw the eyes of the reader to the dangerous repercussions of nuclear energy.

Descripción

Esta pegatina fue creado por Joves d’Esquerra Verda. Provee el vinculo a su página web interactiva y informativa, y el logotipo de la organización se presentan en la pegatina. El texto Segur? se traduce en seguridad?. Junto con la imagen de un cráneo debajo de la máquina de energía nuclear ejemplifica el mensaje de que la energía nuclear no es segura para los ciudadanos, y propondrá problemas reales para los seres humanos y el medio ambiente. Un quinto de la energía de España es nuclear a través de siete centrales eléctricas, y un cierre reciente de uno en Garoña. Esta pegatina recalca la falta de información provee a los ciudadanos por las compañías nucleares sobre las cuestiones de la salud ambiental y humano. Sin embargo, demuestra el intento positivo de un grupo político, y más importante, un grupo juvenil, lo que muestra las acciones preventivas de los jóvenes. Esta pegatina ofrece la frase común del mundo en oposición de energía nuclear pero en catalán, Nuclears? No, gràcies. Esto indica el gran movimiento de las áreas que se niegan la energía nuclear. La situación sobre la tierra parece inocuo con el cielo azul y las maquinas simples. La pregunta Segur? duda esta escena y debajo la tierra se revela la verdad; el texto en negrita, No, gràcies se coloca cerca del cráneo para dibujar los ojos del lector a las repercusiones peligrosos de la energía nuclear.

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  1. Text: Nuclear? No, Thank You — No To The Centralized Temporary Storage — Close Garoña… And The Rest
  2. Image: Smiling sun symbol of antinuclear organizations worldwide, created in 1977
  3. Logo: Ecologists in action — Ecologistas en acción
  1. Texto: Nucleares? No, Gracias — No Al ATC (Almacén Temporal Centralizado) – Cierre De Garoña… Y De Todas Las Demás
  2. Imagen: Sol sonriente símbolo de organizaciones antinucleares mundiales, crea en 1977
  3. Logo: Ecologistas en acción

Description

Simple, yet effective sticker illustrating the necessity to abolish nuclear energy usage and to close power plants. The text is bold and grabs the attention of the audience. It is not overly aggressive, but is firm in its request. “No to nuclear energy. No to the ATC” (Almacén temporal centralizado de España/Centralized Temporary Storage), which is a project to expand current nuclear waste facilities to accommodate high activity level waste from Spain, France, and the UK. Opposition highlights the lack of economic benefits, the risks of building facilities and transporting high-level waste, and the overall discomfort and apprehension from citizens. This sticker calls for the closure of Garoña, a nuclear plant in Burgos, Spain, and continues to request closure of the rest of Spain’s seven nuclear power plants. The smiling sun is the international symbol of anti-nuclear organizations and its presence suggests the inclusion of the rest of the world in rejecting nuclear energy. Finally, the logo for Ecologistas en Acción propagates their presence in fighting for environmental issues.

Descripción

Simple, pero efectivo pegatina que ilustra la necesidad de abolir el uso de la energía nuclear y cerrar las centrales eléctricas. El texto en negro atrae la atención de la audiencia. No es demasiado agresivo, pero es firme en sus peticiones. “No a la energía nuclear. No a la ATC” (Almacén Temporal Centralizado de España), que es un proyecto de ampliación de las instalaciones de residuos nucleares actuales para dar cabida a los residuos de actividad alta procedentes de España, Francia y el Reino Unido. La oposición incluye la falta de beneficios económicos, los riesgos de la construcción de instalaciones y transporte de residuos de actividad alta, y el malestar general y la aprehensión de los ciudadanos. Esta pegatina pide el cierre de Garoña, una central nuclear en Burgos, España; continúa solicitud de cierre del resto de las centrales nucleares. El sol sonriente es el símbolo internacional de organizaciones antinucleares y su presencia sugiere la inclusión del resto del mundo al rechazar la energía nuclear. Por último, el logo de Ecologistas en Acción propaga su presencia en la lucha por las cuestiones ambientales.

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From here, I will work with Arline Wolfe, the SLU arts metadata technician, to polish the writing and to add links and subject headings to each item in the Street Art Graphics digital archive. The biggest news ahead, however, is that I’m making a case at St. Lawrence to have the University sign up for Artstor’s Shared Shelf Commons, a free, international, open access digital image library of arts and sciences. Artstor is one of the best platforms I’ve come across in terms of publishing digital image collections, but I’ve avoided using it in the past because content is only available to paid subscribers (like colleges, universities, museums, etc.). However, with the Shared Shelf Commons, users can now post materials and make them available to everyone, everywhere. More to follow!

Pegatinas Writing Assignment Part One: Annotating Images for Digital Archive

For the upcoming assignment at St. Lawrence University to have Marina Llorente’s students analyze political stickers from Spain, I decided to split the project into two parts. Part One will ask students to annotate the images, and Part Two will ask students to use the annotations to write about what the stickers mean (i.e., what are the larger issues that the stickers point to?). I’m doing it this way now because the last time we offered the assignment, students did well contextualizing the stickers but sometimes forgot to describe all of the textual and visual elements of the stickers. Those descriptions are important in a digital archive because people access images through word searches. If descriptive words are missing, access is curtailed. Descriptions fields are so thorny! If you think about it, one needs to list everything in the sticker, but one also needs to provide historical and cultural background and draw attention to issues beyond the sticker itself. Below is what I prepared for Part One of the writing assignment using this sticker from the Izquierda Anticapitalista (Anti-capitalist Left).

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ASSIGNMENT

For this assignment, you will be analyzing political street art stickers from Spain for a Street Art Graphics digital archive that is publicly available on the gallery’s Web site:

1. The first step is to annotate the images. This will help you with your analysis.

2. Open the image file in Preview and click on Tools/Annotate/Text.[1]

3. Choose a contrasting color and type large numbers onto all of the visual and textual elements in the image including each line of text, the images, logos, Web sites, and anything else. Number these elements in a way that makes logical sense. The most important elements should be listed first. Every element in the sticker is there for a reason, so it’s your job to figure them all out. After you number the elements, save and close the file. If you need to re-number anything, you’ll need to re-start with the raw image file again (once the numbered file is saved and closed, it locks the annotations in place). You’ll see below how #1A, #1B, #1C, and #1D all indicate text; #2 indicates a face; #3 indicates a logo; #4 indicates a Web site; and #5 indicates a QR code.

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INSTRUCTIONS

#1 text: Type all of the text that appears in the sticker in a way that makes logical sense. For cataloguing purposes, the first letter of each word is capitalized, and the remaining letters in each word should be small (not capitalized). Use a dash between different sections of the text so that it reads in a normal, common sense way. If the text appears in Spanish, translate it into English in the same fashion. Any and all Spanish text in the sticker should be in written in italics.

#2 image/color: Identify who or what is being represented in the image (people, objects, buildings, graphic design elements, color, composition, i.e., everything!) and include any other information that seems relevant or important. Be as specific as possible. For example, in my description below, see how I put “photo portrait” of Angela Merkel instead of “picture,” “drawing,” “illustration,” etc. “Portrait” here also implies head vs. her entire body in action. I also noted who Merkel is and how the type font affects our interpretation of the text. In terms of color, most stickers are either black on white or black and other colors on white.

#3 logo: Describe the logo’s shape, color, etc. and what the logo suggests. Does it play off any other existing logo (i.e., is it a form of “culture jamming”)? HINT: Take a close-up screen shot of the logo and drag the image file into Google Images and see what you find. It’s a handy way to see if and how the logo relates to anything else. Sometimes, it’s the only way to find out!

#4 Web site: Describe the purpose or function of the organization that created the sticker.

#5 QR code: Find the Web site where the QR code sends you. Is it something else besides the organization’s main Web site? What is the purpose of the Web site?

ACTUAL EXAMPLE OF ANNOTATED STICKER

#1 text: Des Obedece – ¡Su Deuda No La Pagamos! – Vota Anticapitalistas – Anticapitalistas.org; Disobey – ¡We Are Not Paying Their Debt! – Vote Anticapitalists! – Anticapitalistas.org

#2 image/color: Photo portrait of German politician Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany (2005-present). Her face is covered by a large circle that hides most of her eyes, nose, and mouth. The use of a bold graphic type font suggests an urgent appeal for a response. Black and army green on white.

# 3 logo: Faceted star-shaped logo for Izquierda Anticapitalista or Anticapitalist Left.

#4 Web site: www.anticapitalistas.org for Izquierda Anticapitalista or Anti-capitalist Left, a Spanish revolutionary, ecologist, feminist, and internationalist organization that fights against all kinds of exploitation, oppression, and domination over people and the environment. The full-color logo in red, purple, and green signifies the different ideas that the organization supports: socialists or communists (red), feminists (purple), and green movements (green).

#5 QR code: A QR code on the sticker points to the Web site http://www.anticapitalistas.org/elecciones2011/index.html, which encourages people to vote for an alternative anti-capitalist government during the Spanish general election on November 20, 2011. The Web site states, “El 20N desobedece” or “The 20N disobeys.

Part Two: Writing a 150- to 200-word analysis of the sticker, placing it in a social and historical context. More information to follow!

[1] Photoshop is also fine for annotating images.

“The People’s Archive” instructional notes

Below are the notes I sent to the Weaving the Streets & People’s Archives team members today, focusing on the People’s Archive component of the project.

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

– Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

“The archivist, even more than the historian and the political scientist, tends to be scrupulous about his neutrality, and to see his job as a technical job, free from the nasty world of political interest: a job of collecting, sorting, preserving, making available, the records of the society.  But I will stick by what I have said about other scholars, and argue that the archivist, in subtle ways, tends to perpetuate the political and economic status quo simply by going about his ordinary business.  His supposed neutrality is, in other words, a fake.  If so, the rebellion of the archivist against his normal role is not, as so many scholars fear, the politicizing of a neutral craft, but the humanizing of an inevitably political craft.  Scholarship in society is inescapably political.  Our choice is not between being political or not.  Our choice is to follow the politics of the going order, that is, to do our job within the priorities and directions set by the dominant forces of society, or else to promote those human values of peace, equality, and justice, which our present society denies.”

– Howard Zinn, “Secrecy, Archives, and the Public Interest”

Let me begin with something John Collins has used to describe the Weave blog, which is the act of weaving together “texts” and “contexts.”  In Latin, the word textus means “1. construct with elaborate care; 2. plait (together); and 3. weave.”  Likewise, in Latin, contextus means “1. compose, connect, link, combine; 2. make, join, form; and 3. weave, entwine, braid, twist together.”

In literary theory and cultural studies, “texts” are any sort of phenomena that signify meaning, such as written publications, visual works of art, music, videos, oral interviews, etc. as well as clothing styles, architectural design, community-based murals, solidarity gatherings, etc.  Coming from a printmaking perspective, I myself tend to focus on hand-held physical texts or “artifacts,” such as street art stickers, political posters, flyers, leaflets, and photographs of these items (though in some cases, these physical artifacts are ephemeral by design).

Texts tell stories.  It’s up to you to figure out what those stories are.  One of the goals of WSPA is to identify the texts that you think are important and tell the stories surrounding those texts.  That’s the Weaving the Streets blogging component of our project, the contextualization.

The People’s Archive will also document the creative ways ordinary people make use of public space to express themselves.  The archive is intended to be a varied repository of selected texts that we gather to share with others.  It will consist of physical artifacts, as I described above, that will be scanned, catalogued, and added to the gallery’s Street Art Graphics digital archive (http://www.stlawu.edu/gallery/digitalcollections/streetartgraphics.php).  Take a look at some of the entries to get a sense of the cataloguing that’s been done.  It’s a work-in-progress, so some items are more thoroughly catalogued than others.  Non-physical artifacts, such as “born digital” documentary photographs, video or sound-based interviews, etc., will also be catalogued as texts and will reside on the WSPA group blog (http://weavenews.org/content/weaving-streets).  In some cases, physical artifacts will appear in both the Street Art Graphics digital archive and the WSPA group blog.

For each physical artifact or born digital item, you will be asked to identify:

  • the creator (artist, organization, sponsor, contributor, or unknown)
  • the geographic location where you found it (be as specific as possible).  For those of you with smart phones, you can even write down GPS coordinates for future reference.
  • a 150-200 word description (what it is about, why it was made, and who the intended audience might be).  Description fields are the most difficult but also the most fun.  You’ll do research to unlock the mysteries surrounding your artifacts or born digital items.  For examples in the Street Art Graphics digital archive, check out the description fields in the German “St. Pauli” stickers and the American “night raiders.”

Cataloguing information is known as “metadata,” or data about data.  Each artifact or born digital item will be catalogued using the fields listed above.  In addition, subject fields for each item will be populated by a university librarian.  Subject fields are tricky and need to follow certain guidelines determined by the Library of Congress and others.  That way, our work will fit into the larger body of knowledge for use by diverse audiences.

Alums can mail physical artifacts to me at the gallery, and students in the field can do the same or bring them back to campus next fall.  The gallery will scan each item and use your metadata to add to the digital archive and/or group blog.  John and I will leave it up to you to decide how many artifacts or born digital items you’d like to incorporate into your research, but we’re imagining somewhere between four to six.  This work is known as digital curation, which is like selecting artworks for an exhibition, for example.  Each of you will be curating your own show, so to speak.  You’ll want to choose your four to six items carefully so that they tell the story you want to share with others.  That is your role as an archivist/activist.

I write about street art stickers on my research blog called Stickerkitty, and for your reference I have listed four links below to posts that weave together texts and contexts.  You’ll see how I often come across some unknown thing I find on the streets and then work to uncover the story behind it.

https://stickerkitty.com/2013/01/26/white-power-and-good-night-white-pride-stickers/

https://stickerkitty.com/2012/04/28/thor-steinar-storefront-in-friedrichsain-and-other-protests/

https://stickerkitty.com/2013/05/20/barbies-not-so-dream-house/

https://stickerkitty.com/2013/05/18/mapping-right-wing-stickers/

A few other references to archivism and activism are listed below.

Lile, Grace.  “Archives for Change: Activist Archives, Archival Activism.”  http://blog.witness.org/2010/09/archives-for-change-activist-archives-archival-activism/.

“Occupy Wall Street from the Streets to the Archives” (New York Times, May 2, 2012).  http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/02/occupy-wall-street-from-the-streets-to-the-archives/.

See also Ben McCorkle’s “Annotated Obama Poster” for his analysis of the visual rhetoric behind the Obama HOPE poster at http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/mccorkle12/work2.html.

FC St. Pauli stickers #2

I did a little more research and polished my previous blog post on St. Pauli stickers for two reasons: 1.) I needed a shorter, condensed version without links to use in the Street Art Graphics digital archive, and 2.) I will use this version in the traveling exhibition, Re-Writing the Streets: The International Language of Stickers.  I can also use this exercise to show students the differences and similarities among a blog post, metadata for a digital archive, and an exhibition text panel.

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Hamburg, the German port city home to the St. Pauli football club (Fußball St. Pauli or FC St. Pauli), hosts a sports team well known for its outspoken anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic politics and its staunchly progressive social activism.  Founded in 1910, the club is located in the working-class district along the docks near the Reeperbahn red-light district, and for the past thirty years has maintained a certain cult following across Europe, initially attracting radicals, squatters, dockers, and prostitutes in the 1980s, and later, anarchists, punks, bikers, anti-fascists, and other politicized groups.  Known as the “pirates of the league,” the club has adopted a number of shipyard-related visual icons, including the Jolly Roger flag’s skull and crossbones, which is the unofficial crest and seen everywhere, as well as anchors, galleons, and sword brandishing buccaneers.  St. Pauli was the first team in Germany to ban right-wing activities and displays at its stadium, in response to hooligan fascists and neo-Nazis in the 1980s and ‘90s that were infiltrating matches across the country, fighting rival teams and police, and causing a great deal of violence and damage.  The sticker “St. Pauli-fans gegen Rechts!” or “St. Pauli fans against the Right!” has been widely produced and distributed and is said to have sold over two million copies.  Variants of “St. Pauli is brown [and] white,” the team’s home and away colors, are also common.  Many St. Pauli stickers portray the revolutionary guerrilla leader, Ernesto “Che” Guevara.  Others incorporate ad-busting techniques and similar forms of culture jamming, as seen in the appropriation of popular television and cartoon characters such as Homer Simpson, Hello Kitty, and Beavis and Butthead.

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One of St. Pauli’s closest rival teams, the wealthier Hamburger Sport-Verein (HSV or H$V), utilizes a blue, white, and black diamond crest that is often mocked in St. Pauli stickers.

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STUCK UP and “They Live”

My “I’m Sorry (George W. Bush)” sticker is included in an exhibition entitled STUCK UP, A Selected History of Alternative & Pop Culture Told Through Stickers, which opens on January 20, 2012, and runs through March 3, 2012, at Maxwell Collette Gallery in Chicago.  The exhibition, which was curated by DB Burkeman, draws from his extensive personal collection and:

provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore the expanding role that stickers have played in popular culture over the past four decades.  ‘STUCK UP…’ features stickers from Street Art legends (Banksy, Barry McGee, Shepard Fairey, Space Invader, KAWS), and internationally lauded contemporary artists (Andy Warhol, Jenny Holzer, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Tom Sachs) shown side by side with anonymous stickers peeled from the streets of NYC.”

The exhibition opened at the Scope Art Fair during Art Basel | Miami Beach in December 2011.  For this project, Burkeman created seven large themed panels, sort of like what I’ve done in sticker exhibitions in the past, but his stickers look like they’re floating in air, which is pretty sweet.  My sticker is on the lower left of this panel, second row up from the bottom:

Aside from this, I watched John Carpenter’s 1988 film They Live yesterday on the recommendation of friends at Peace Paper.  With a more contemporary cast, the film could have been made in the last couple of years with its themes of corporate greed, capitalist consumption, police surveillance, and the role of advertising and the media in controlling human thought.  When the main character in the movie puts on a special pair of sunglasses, he is able to see the truth that alien ghouls run the banks and government and that billboards, magazines, and material objects contain subliminal messages to “OBEY,” “CONSUME,” and “MARRY AND REPRODUCE.”

Shepard Fairey is said to have been influenced by the film for his OBEY Giant propaganda campaign.


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