Red-Eye: Up Against the Wall
A visit to the red line does much for visual wonders and recently, our red line research took us up-close and against a wall of colorful evidence. With red line writers Fame & Grave as our tour guides, we found ourselves somewhere in between Ft. Totten and Brookland — or was it Ft. Totten and Takoma? All we know for sure was there was graffiti high, low and in abundance. See for yourself …
Without Further Ado …
Here’s the rough cut of Red Line D.C.‘s first installment, See Something, Say Something. Check out our efforts in this first part of the red line series then let us know what you think in the comments section or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We hope you like what you see!
Looking Back at Our Red Line Ride
This past weekend, five brave souls set their sights on the red line to talk about the metro and art. It was an experiment in filmmaking and community dialogue. We took the risk of approaching strangers and asking them to take a new look at their environment. We asked commuters about their red line histories, experiences riding and interest–if any–in the graffiti that greets them each day. The responses were varied and the results of our little adventure were surprising to all involved. In the days since our all-day shoot, here’s what the small and energetic crew behind Red Line D.C.‘s commuter interviews has had to say about the whole weekend excursion:
I think it was interesting how we were worried about approaching folks, but some people reacted really warmly. It’s an important reminder that filmmaking is a two-way street. We’re not just taking, but there is an exchange …
– Julie Espinosa, videography
I was pleasantly surprised by how open and receptive most people were about talking to us and being filmed; the friendliness of red liners! And, people gave really thoughtful answers, not just yes or no.
– Jada Smith, interviewing
In general, I was surprised at people’s willingness to talk in such an open space. I only spoke with a couple people, but I was also surprised at how overwhelmingly negative their attitudes towards graffiti were. I mean, I guess my own opinions aren’t a good barometer, but … it seems like people were just forming their opinions [about graffiti on the metro] without discussing at all … They just may not have all the sides to the story.
– Mebrahtu Grmai, videography
The few people I was able to interact with, actually had a lot more to say than I expected. It almost felt like people are quiet, but when given a chance to express themselves, they really open [up]. [In] my experience with the metro people are quiet, looking down, minding their own business (as much as possible), but that day, the 2-3 people I got to see or talk to, opinions just started flowing out.
– Philippe Bissohong, interviewing
I enjoyed soaking up the metro experience in a group. It attracted a lot of attention, but in ways that allowed us to spark conversations with curious commuters. Announcing to a packed train that you are doing a metro graffiti documentary is probably the biggest ice breaker I can think of … Once the initial “we’re-transit-strangers-so-we-shouldn’t-speak” awkwardness passed, I was surprised by how many people we’re willing to share their points of view.
– Saaret Yoseph, directing
MuralsDC Celebrates a Summer of Graffiti at the H Street Temporium
WBL’s “The Show,” which displays the work of MuralsDC’s lead and apprentice artists will be taking place at the Temporium (1300 H st, NE) until September 13th. Check it out while you can!
Come for the Grub, Stay for the Graffiti
Our last pre-fall hoorah has arrived! To wrap up a summer of art across the city, WBL will be hosting an exhibit and BBQ Tuesday night at 1300 H Street, NE. Besides graffiti talk and good grub, expect to find gallery pieces by lead artists and apprentice artists who have contributed to the latest crop of public art projects throughout the District. And keep a lookout for our project, as well. We’ll be bugging you to supply questions for future Red Line D.C. interviews and showing footage of MuralsDC leaving its mark on the red line. Click here, to find out more info. on tonight’s event. If you can’t make it or just can’t wait till then, enjoy a sneak peek below:
More video snippets can be seen here on our Vimeo page. Subscribe to our channel or keep checking back for new Red Line D.C. remixes and teasers.
Online, Offline, Red Line
Like it or not folks, these are very mobile times we’re living. And we’re not the only ones on the move. Increasingly, technology and transit have not only bridged distances between people, but cultural products as well. Public art is no different. These days, you’re just as likely to encounter it on the internet as you are along the metro. So, what the digital age has done for graffiti has been to preserve and proliferate ephemeral works online. Sites like 12 oz. Prophet and Juxtapoz are already in on the action, serving as platforms for writers, graffiti enthusiasts and the like to get a glimpse of graffiti and street art beyond their own neighborhoods.
Yet, aside from exposing us to new ideas and aesthetics, the internet can also be a platform for reconnecting us with the physical and familiar. One major aim of Red Line D.C. is to use this website (and posts like the one you’re reading, right now) to promote online discussion for offline engagement. We want what you encounter here to encourage participation; a fresh perspective on the art (or lack thereof) in the places you inhabit most. And, it turns out that there’s a term for what we’re trying to do — digital placemaking. Check out the video below to hear urban designer and community builder Bonnie Shaw explain what digital placemaking is all about:
Using online communication to enliven offline communities, eh? Not a bad concept, but definitely one that takes a little work–from as many people as possible. The challenge, so far, for Red Line D.C. has been to corral more contributions from local residents. Not just $$$–though, that is appreciated–but stories, comments, and captured images of the red line. If you live in the city, ride the metro or just have something to say about public art in public space, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
The internet is an easy and effective way to strengthen community ties. But, when all else fails, there’s always the ol’ fashion in-person method. Late last week, Words, Beats &, Life Inc. (our friendly D.C. nonprofit) held a community forum for local residents to weigh in on the creation of an upcoming mural in the District’s U st. corridor. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a large number of attendees looking to join in on the mural-making process, so we’re wondering what can be done to get more people participating in the aesthetics of their everyday space. Be it online or off, be sure to share your voice! What you see may be important, but what you have to say about it means much more!
Back to D.C., Back on the Grind!
It’s manic Monday and we’re starting the week off with a bang! Tomorrow’s “Art of Vandalism” event is guaranteed to be a good time and a great discussion. (Have you RSVP’ed, yet?) So, as we get in gear for Tuesday night, featured panelist, graffiti writer and guest blogger Tim Conlon recounts his personal history with the spray can-sport. Check it out …
As of this year, I have been painting graffiti for over half of my life. It may seem fleeting to have spent so much time on such temporary work, but graffiti has held a permanent design in the person I am, my life experiences, and the people that I keep close to me. I started painting in Baltimore in the early 90′s and it quickly consumed all other interests — like any addiction. I spent countless hours in dangerous neighborhoods and train yards in some of the worst parts of that city. Besides carrying my paint cans, I carried a singular goal: to put aside day-to-day anxieties and just paint. It didn’t matter to me if it was a tag or a piece. The end result was having the satisfaction that I created something for myself in adverse conditions. To me, graffiti is all about problem solving: “How do I get to that particular spot to paint, how should I chose my colors this time, how do I make this particular letter connection work for this piece, and how do I get myself out of this situation?”
Taking a break from real world problems gave me time to think through those issues, while I was quietly painting in the dark. I have risked my life quite a few times to paint graffiti, but the twisted truth is that that graffiti has consistently been my lifesaver.
– Tim Conlon