Are We There Yet?
As 2013 approaches, we know you’re eager for the big reveal of Red Line D.C.‘s final two-part documentary series. Trust us when we say, so are we!
Having finished the fine cuts of (part one) “See Something, Say Something” and (part two, tentatively titled), “Crossing the Line,” director/producer Saaret Yoseph has tagged in some essential support to help her champion–and finally complete–this three-year long project The remaining elements include, visual effects and a soundtrack by local legend Damu the Fudgemunk, a surefire combo package to compliment our documentary efforts.
We know that you are just as excited as we are to see these final touches come together. No doubt, a little impatient, as well. But fret not. With a few months to go until completion, we wouldn’t pass the time without giving you a taste of what’s to come. Here’s a slideshow featuring some of the fantastic, never-before-seen photos of Red line graffiti that we’ll be including in both films. These images have been collected by Cory Stowers, one of our featured interviewees and co-owner of the custom design shop Art Under Pressure. We have him to thank for holding you over until we get our act together.
Enjoy! And, as always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!
From Theory to Practice
We’re back with another sampling from the #RedLineDC video vault. This time with an excerpt from last year’s interview with art historian and culture theorist Martin Irvine, the founding professor of Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture & Technology program.
We asked Professor Irvine about the academic concepts evident in graffiti subculture. What’s the big idea behind the writings on the wall? Why has the tradition of graffiti returned to the Red line, again and again? Irvine weighs in on the lure of metro graffiti and explains why we need to give these everyday aesthetics a closer look. See for yourself and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
All editing and no play makes Red Line D. C. a dull project, so luckily there’s a silver lining up ahead. Next month we’ll be screening new footage and discussing the final phase of our efforts at two upcoming events. The first, on Saturday, October 13th, (7pm) will be hosted by neighborhood initiative DeanwoodxDesign. The second, a collaboration between human resource-hub Knowledge Commons and BloomBars, a community arts space in Columbia Heights, will be held the following week on Saturday, October 20th (12-2pm).
Respectively, these three awesome organizations are breathing new offline life to Red Line D.C. We’ll be showing unseen footage from the two-part film and both events will feature live discussion with Saaret Yoseph, the documentary’s director and producer. Yoseph will talk about post-production progress and plans for release, as well as the stakes behind Red Line D. C. and the 3-year process that led to this point in the project.
Oh, and in case you missed it last week, Yoseph did a guest spot on WAMU‘s The Kojo Nnamdi Show. She was included in an episode about public art and graffiti alongside a couple Red Line D. C. interviewees, including art director Cory Stowers and Nancee Lyons from the Department of Public Works. The lively chat should hold you over if you’re in need of a little Red line action until we see you next month.
But in the meantime, check back for more event details and project updates.
Main Event(s): Show Up & Show Love
Remember those promises we made about Red Line D.C. and summer fun? Well, summer is upon us, people, so set your sights–and synchronize your calendars–for all the fun in-store for you. In preparation for upcoming events, we just launched a seven-week long fundraising campaign to promote the project and pay for the costs & labor needed to make Red Line D.C. come to life. Please check out our campaign page and contribute what you can.
In the meantime, show some love at one (or ALL) of the events we have planned for June. Bring yourself, a few friends and a lot of enthusiasm. We’ll be expecting you …
UPCOMING RED LINE D.C. EVENTS:
Red Line D.C. Happy Hour & Sneak Peek Screening
Friday, June 15th
4809 Georgia Ave, NW
(btw. Decatur St. & Delafield Pl.)
Red Line D.C. Closeout Party
Thursday, June 21st
2005 14th St, NW
(btw. V & U st)
Have You Missed Us?
Lately, you may have noticed the absence of Red Line D.C. online. But there’s a reason behind our disappearing act. While our blog updates and Twitter timeline have been neglected, we’ve been holed up in the editing room and huddled around tables planning events.
In anticipation of the documentary’s summer release, we’ve amped up the momentum of post-production. By day, we pore through footage, edit and arrange a storyline about the aesthetics and experience of the Red line; by night, we ride the route ourselves and see first-hand how much of that story continues to unfold.
With that said, if you’ve been jonesing for a helping of Red line D.C., we’ve got the cure. In the weeks leading up to the release, we’ll do our best to share snippets like this one from the cutting room floor. Here, interviewee Cory Stowers, a former Red line writer and local business owner, shares an anecdote about graffiti and the late, great go-go legend Chuck Brown. Check it out …
The Red Line’s Nerdy Side
It isn’t easy explaining all the moving parts of Red Line D.C., but director and producer Saaret Yoseph did her best last week. Presenting in front of faculty at Georgetown University, she defended the research and remixing done for the project over the past two years. Saaret discussed the transient elements of graffiti and transit as well as her motivations for exploring the everyday aesthetics of our Red line commute. The event was a marker of Red Line D.C. ‘s progress and a milestone in her graduate career in the Communication, Culture & Technology program at Georgetown. If you’re looking for insight on what makes this whole interactive, multimedia project work, get into geek-mode and take a look at this snippet from the presentation:
The Graffiti-Fueled Field Trip
It was a typical Sunday with extraordinary ambition. A small group of strangers convened at Metro Center this past weekend with only their curiosity in common. After a quick exchange of names and pleasantries, they boarded a train toward Glenmont and gave little thought to the destination. This was an afternoon commute that was all about the journey; an art-filled event steeped in the metro experience. And of course, Red Line D.C. was along for the ride.
The event, hosted by Knowledge Commons DC, was a part of the metro poetry series, Slam the Rails. In last weekend’s session, Joseph Ross shared poetry inspired by the work of graffiti writer Cool Disco Dan. As the the last car of the train ascended out of the tunnel and above ground, Ross began his reading. Attendees (and unsuspecting riders) took in the names and sights of the red line–some even for the first time! After a couple of unexpected stops along the way, the ride ended at Takoma station, where participants were invited to reflect on the ride and its surrounding graffiti.
Check out the flicks from our graffiti-fueled field trip!
In honor of the new spring forward, here’s another remix via Red Line D.C. This time, we left the film techniques behind to record our first-ever podcast with red line writer (and willing guinea pig) Nepal. As a featured participant in the video See Something, Say Something, Nepal was invited to share his feedback and feelings regarding part one of the documentary with its director and producer Saaret Yoseph. In an informal conversation between filmmaker and subject, the two talk about filmmaking ethics, the outdated “outlaw experience” and the red line ‘s future with D.C. Check out the chatter below …
* Podcast music composed by Timothy Morrison.
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 …
PHOTOS: OG’s and New Additions
Last week was all about meet-and-greets for Red Line D.C. On the other side of the MBT fences, we were invited into one of the little-known properties lining the red line; this one by Rhode Island Ave metro station. The man waiting for us, opening his doors for an upcoming interview, was Arondo Holmes, owner of Hondo Coffee. Mr. Holmes’ coffee roasting warehouse, directly on the MBT, is one of the properties with a legal mural. His business has been in Edgewood for about 3 years, but he lived and work in the neighborhood 20 years back. He will, no doubt, have some great insights to offer our project. And now, that we’ve done the introduction, we can hardly wait for the interview …
Another newcomer to our project, but OG of the red line, is graffiti writer, CERT, who we interviewed along with writers Some, Fame and Grave. If the name CERT isn’t familiar to you, his work probably is: CERT’s responsible for the oft-photographed and frequently referenced “Sean Taylor” piece at Brookland Ave. metro station as well as, a ton of other productions along the Line. You can even watch commuters call to mind the “Sean Taylor” mural for us when interviewed on the metro. Among the graffiti community, CERT is seen by many as a local legend and, like Mr. Holmes, his personal history with the red line spans about two decades.
We’re happy to have these knowledgeable new additions to Red Line D.C. But until you catch them all on video, check out the slide show of last week’s adventures.
Open to the Public, Open for Discussion
Just when we thought we were alone, out here on the interweb, TBD’s On Foot echoes our efforts for public participation. Check out the pedestrian blog’s latest post with updates on our progress and read what blogger John Hendel had to say about the rough cut of part one in the Red Line D.C. series, See Something, Say Something. We’re so happy to have our words and visuals shared with new audiences. Let’s see what new conversations come of it …
WATCH: Random Acts of Expression, NYC
Videos have a powerful case of contagion online. If our Red Line D.C. reel is any example, multimedia is a great way to catch and share a glimpse of city life and everyday happenings, here in the capital or elsewhere in the world. In our personal travels across the interweb, we came across a recent YouTube video of a commuter’s experience with public art on the New York City subway. In this case, the unsanctioned art at work was an impromptu jam session (ukulele, included!) between alleged strangers.
The lively back-and-forth between songstress and drummer clearly held the attention of some passengers on the train, including mybs86, the user who posted the video and titled it “never a dull moment on the NYC subway.” Still, not everyone aboard was as impressed. Watch the clip and you’ll notice a couple heads low and a few eyes averting the disruption. Seems a lot like the mixed reviews we got from red line commuters about the graffiti and murals there to distract their ride. Some riders, like mybs86, were enthusiastic fans while others were ambivalent or outright annoyed by the unwelcome expression. Check out the video and tell us where you stand on graffiti, gratuitous concerts and other unsought transit distractions.
First Post Since …
The new year has made us nostalgic. Looking back on old footage from the first days of Red Line D.C., we came across an excerpt-worthy interview that had to be shared. Robin Marcus, a writing professor at George Washington University, sat down with us in the summer of 2010 to sift through Flickr photos of red line graffiti and riff on its significance. It was an experiment of sorts. One of many we’ve conducted by taking the topic of graffiti beyond the red line and in new directions. This time, a mild-mannered academic was asked to eyeball the work of red line writer JU from the convenience of her computer screen. Since the project’s onset, our goal has always been to spark a larger dialogue about shared city aesthetics; to inspire metro riders with a renewed sense of attachment to their city, its public spaces and all that they see. In this video, Professor Marcus does well to remind us of that. Taking an open-minded look at JU’s “Big Booty” piece, she emphasizes the ability of artistic expression to connect us and our disparate ideas to a broader human consciousness. See what Professor Marcus had to say, then go back to our excerpt of JU’s interview to hear what he had to say for himself.
Work in Progress …
With 2012 approaching, we’re preparing for a new release from Red Line D.C. Editing is currently underway for See Something, Say Something (working title), a short film about the indirect relationship between graffiti writers who get up on the red line and the commuters who ride it everyday. In the weeks past we’ve been reviewing interviews, and archiving photos from “the Line” which a handful of writers have been kind enough to share. Here are a few snapshots that graffiti writer Nepal sent our way to give you a sense of what’s to come.
(Wo)Man on the Street: Talking to Commuters on the Red Line
Today, we’re hopping the train and hitting the red line all day for impromptu interviews with commuters. We’ll be canvassing from Union Station metro all the way to Silver Spring, talking to riders along the way about their metro experience and the open space art along their route. Since weekend service on the D.C. metro usually means a longer wait time, passengers may be more willing to kill time by talking to us. Man on the street interviews tend to be a tricky trade-off in the documentary game, but we know the commuter perspective is an important part of capturing the red line’s story. Not just today, but throughout the course of this project.
Commuter Serena McClain offers a great example of the sort of public participation we’re looking for. Here’s what she had to say on her blog about her red line experience and the public art she’s encountered along the ride:
I find myself on the red line once every few weeks, usually commuting from DC to a meeting in Silver Spring, and despite all of the drama surrounding red line delays, I always look forward to the trip. Instead of burying my head in a book, I’m always treated to an ever-changing art show along the tracks … Despite the fact that I sit on the fence about whether “approved” graffiti takes something away from the people, you can’t deny that these murals are beautiful. You also can’t deny that talented artists deserve a platform from which to be seen.
We appreciate Serena’s input on red line aesthetics. (Check out her supporting slide show here.) We also hope others feel compelled to share with us. If we catch you on the red line today, be sure to greet us with a smile and an open mind. We’re aching to hear from you, if not out there on the line then online is the next best thing. Email us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Word on the Street: Red Line Riders Speak Out!
This site is in need of some fresh multimedia! A little audio inspiration is exactly what we need to pickup momentum on discussion about red line aesthetics and history. Straight from the Red Line D.C. vault and submitted for your approval, a quickie interview with a willing red line commuter named Ellen. As we work with WordPress (and on our ever-growing technical skills), we’ll do our best to share more of these conversational gems with you. Hopefully, this recorded fodder will inspire you to share your own experiences on the red line. Hear what one commuter has to say and sound off with your own opinion at email@example.com or down below in the comments section.
Walk a Little, Talk a Little Art
This weekend, Red Line D.C. went east of the river to attend a panel discussion, The Importance of Art in Public, at Anacostia Library. In a public building showing off its own aesthetic appeal, local residents gathered to hear what the artists, gatekeepers and administrators behind citywide public art projects had to say about their work’s significance. Moderating the panel was Phillip Kennicott, arts and culture writer for the Washington Post. Kennicott kicked things off by asking the panelists to consider how they defined public art and how that art “finishes a space; keeps a space present.” Though, all the participants made interesting points, standout quotes from the Saturday afternoon event came by way of Dierde Thayer Ehlen, public art manager for the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, and Wanda Aikens, executive director of Ward 7 Arts Collaborative. It was Ehlen’s belief, for example, that public art be “molded into the fabric of a community,” while Aikens thought it essential for a city to have “fertile ground for people to create.” Always ready to keep the red line relevant, we asked the panelists if they valued illegal public art, like metro graffiti. Talk of the Metro-Branch Trail and marginalized artworks ensued. (Excerpted video of their responses TK!)
After talking about public art at the panel, we wandered around Anacostia to find the real thing. A nearby MuralsDC site at Bread for the City (Good Hope Rd & 10th St, SE) had just been completed last week. And, not far from there, lead artist Bryan Conner and his apprentice artists were putting in work on a massive parking lot mural off Martin Luther King Blvd. Take a look at the flicks to see whats been done and what’s in-store to see for the future. To follow Aikens’ advice, public art productions, like these, are good for “waking up brain cells with color.”
Read All About It …
As a fitting farewell to our summer of graffiti, this week’s issue of the Washington City Paper featured a cover story on the city’s complicated relationship with legal murals and unsanctioned art. Writer Jonna McKone included some familiar names to the fray: Cory Stowers, art director of Words, Beats & Life, Inc.; artist Tim Conlon; and writer FAME — all of whom have been interviewed or involved in Red Line D.C.‘s development in some way, shape or form. (The documentary was given a quick shout-out, too. Woot! Woot!) Before reporting out the WCP article, entitled “Tagging Rights,” McKone did a similar story for WAMU that followed FAME as he hit the line. Both pieces of reporting point to the odd positioning of graffiti culture in D.C., and elsewhere, as more street art finds its way into classrooms, galleries and public art exhibits.
The cultural and artistic tensions that McKone discusses directly inform our work for this project. As MuralsDC adds color to more legal walls around the city, including those along the red line, the significance of these open displays of art becomes increasingly difficult to frame. Is the red line just an old relic of underground art legends, a low-stakes territory for little-known, newbie writers or a transitional place seeing “progress” through public artworks? Clearly, there’s still lots for us to mull over at Red Line D.C. Though, our minds are fixed on a spring/summer release for the documentary, we remain open to the myriad of possibilities for our project. The growing interest in graffiti culture and resulting media attention pushes us to ask: What will Red Line D.C. contribute to the discussion? McKone leaves much room for questioning, as well. She writes, “As the graffiti bubble grows bigger and bigger, its contradictions are being painted in vivid color.” And its with this vast, contradicting color palette in mind, that we set off to paint our own picture …
We’re awed by the folks at TBD’s On Foot blog who have been very kind to our project and its pursuits. Recently, Red Line D.C. director/producer Saaret Yoseph was featured in a lovely and lengthy Q&A. While abroad in Morocco, she e-opined on all things metro graffiti, from what inspired her to get the project going to what’s in store next. (Hint: Fundraising, fundraising and more FUNDRAISING.) Read more about her thoughts on D.C.’s graffiti scene here. And stay tuned for more TBD/Red Line D.C. collaborations …
We <3 Shout-Outs!
It’s always encouraging to hear how enthusiastic people are about our efforts. Last week, TBD blog On Foot discussed Red Line D.C. in a lengthy post about metro graffiti. Considering the site’s focus on pedestrian life, public space and city living, the interest in our documentary topic comes as no surprise. But we’ve said before and we’ll say it again — a little local love goes a long way! We’re happy (and humbled) to see the documentary project gain more traction online and in the streets! Thanks to TBD and to all of you out there who are following the progress of our film …
Just don’t forget, we need you to participate, too! If you have any inquiries for graffiti writers, let us know so that we can include them in future interviews. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org . And remember that every transit ride is an opportunity for dialogue, so keep yours eyes open
and your questions coming!