Friday, April 27, 2018

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly... Screens and Street Art...

The old wall at the local Lidl was 'upgraded' some time ago, in line with the refurbished store itself. While that was all well and good, unfortunately the great expanse of 'concrete canvas' was lost in the process.

I wondered where the street artists and lesser common-or-garden graffists had gone in order to carry on their creative activities. As it turned out, some of them had not gone too far from the initial site, having moved along to the old dry docks on the outskirts of the city.

The national rail company -SNCF - has supported this urban art project. A long stretch of wall beyond one of the residential areas of the city has been given over to this.

The resulting art really is a case of the good, the bad and the ugly - though I will only concentrate on the great ones - whose brilliance in design, colour and execution just bursts out from these scaly, grey urban surfaces.

There must be similar walls to be tracked down in other districts, but there is more pleasure when encountering these quite unexpectedly rather than via Google search.

I really hope that the artists get the recognition that they deserve and sufficient material means to carry out their work. However, both must be limited, I suppose.

This stretch is in a remote part of the urban landscape that only car-drivers cross through, quite possibly without even noticing the works of art on their left.

Even if they do, they may not be able to slow down to admire them as is merited. Just taking the photos here, from my bike, proved a little challenging as straight expanses of road tend to favourise speeding!

I did speak to a few of the old 'Lidl artists' some time ago. They did not have any specific formal training, but their art was a continuation, in grand format, of the drawings and doodles scrawled onto their school books.

In this age, engrossed and entertained by vacuous (self)image and increasingly meaningless labels and qualifications, seeing such an explosion of authentic expression and presence - apparently detached from any financial/material gain - is rare.

Maybe my vision is coloured by my present mood, but it seems that everything is being geared towards the provision of platforms that operate as a succession of carnival mirrors for the populations.

Barrages of screens enable us to gaze at ourselves, through distorted/distorting reality, for narcissistic entertainment and existential validation, all in front of an avid public ready to like... or not.

That might not be so problematic in itself, but this seems to be leading to an inability to maintain anything more than a fleeting focus on anything in particular - we are just encouraged to click on and on - like nosy bystanders, ever ready for the bait of a bit of cheap titillation. We are playing in and at a virtual reality that enables us to live our lives vicariously, or as voyeurs to the game-playing of the others, but surely this will make what is actually real become senseless, pointless, redundant?

For all our access to endless information - we seem to have adopted a blasé approach to the wonders around us - with curiosity taking a direct hit, as we are lost in distraction. An explanation was offered to me recently; since everything is now available at a click on one small device there is less need to learn or live through the challenges of a learning experience when a 'result' is within reach.

Different wall - same city - Punk's not dead!
That seems to be another example of the good, the bad and the ugly - quite accurate, yet it renders everything 'pretty vacant' to quote the Sex Pistols (any excuse to listen to something with some authentic life to it!). It is funny to think that the angry and anarchic displays of the Seventies' Punks were a nightmare vision for many, yet we now have a bunch of Millennium zombies, the Filming Dead, brandishing dumb smartphones, desperate not to miss out on anything.... The irony could kill you.

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