Old Skool Street Graffiti Vs Nu Skool Video Mashups

new articles Uncategorized

Web 2.0 has redefined public space. Now graffiti artists have something more to work with than just walls… Kwok Wan investigates.

Web 2.0 has redefined public space. Now graffiti artists have something more to work with than just walls… Kwok Wan investigates.

Street art has been hitting the headlines recently. Its most famous artist, a mysterious Bristonian known only as Banksy, is selling his graffiti for nearly £30,000. But the evolution of Web 2.0 means we have more public space than ever before. These cyber streets are being decorated, but not with spray paint, rather with a mish mash of videos and sound. It is now possible to take any picture, video clip or music and rework it as your own. This is ground zero for punk video editors, who now have the technology to edit, splice and spin any image or sound they come across.

“You can call me Mick B,” he says, though I also know him as chris166 and Mr. Torosan. He is a pioneer in this new art form and uses YouTube to display his creative desires. “It\’s a way to express myself with images instead of words,” he says and explains his of boredom of conventional films and ads. “80-90% of what they’re proposing… most of it is crap.”

Mick B’s most popular video has nearly two million views and is called YOUTUBERS. It is about Youtube itself. Everything Mick B does is a collage of other things. This montage of other people’s video blogs views like a haunting dream-like tapestry. You are allowed to view the most personal part of each person and briefly connect with in the most intimate way. Each person has revealed something about them and therefore has revealed something about you. Mick B’s cutting intensifies the video blogging phenomenon: the music and half sentences makes the alienation more alien and the need for approval more needy. YOUTUBERS is like floating, half dreaming and half asleep, in a sky of ghostly people.

If YOUTUBERS was a dream, then his next video, Mick B’s FOR VOYEUR’S ONLY – EPISODE 03, is a nightmare. It’s a vision of global tensions and impending disaster. Images of raging Imams are juxtaposed with blurry porno movies. News reports of war and destruction are followed by arguing politicians and fighting dogs. We have kids with guns and they point them towards us, unblinking and without remorse.

The striking thing about his videos is the rhythm. He builds us up and rips us down. He bounces us along before we drop and as we are falling he catches us and launches us into the stratosphere.

But where do his videos rate? Do they have artistic value or are they merely techno doodles? “This kind of thing certainly is art and certainly is worthy,” says Anna Fysh, Sales Manager at the White Cube gallery in London. “These editing and splicings seem edgy but in a sense they’re just doing what all interesting art does – subvert people’s expectations and normal experiences.” Dipesh Patel, website designer for Venda, agrees. “It felt like he was trying hard to create his own unique vision. Granted he was using borrowed images but it came off as his own work.”

The idea of video as art certainly isn’t new. Andy Warhol famously filmed the Empire State Building for two days and then refused to see what he has shot. Woody Allen played around with editing with his 1966 movie: What’s Up Tiger Lilly? where he bought a Japanese spy drama and re-jigged the sound and scenes. The end result changed the original action film to a comedy about egg salad.

But with video hosting sites, it is now possible for everyone to make these kinds of videos, not just the professional artist or movie director. Born in France, Mick B grew up flying back and forth from Marseilles to Los Angles before finally settling in Paris. He studied photography and cinematography in UCLA for a few months but never completed the course. His only previous job is a casino croupier in Cannes and claims he is “autodidact, as far as film editing is concerned.”

And there are thousands like him. Art will express itself wherever it can and the new generation for artist no longer need walls or canvases but a laptop to talk to millions. People like notquitethereyet follow Mick B’s swirling style while guywithglasses mixes films for purely comic effect. And as technology becomes cheaper and broadband more widespread, we will see videos develop, grow and challenge usual conventions of art.