Red, Read, Remix: A Documentary and Cultural Exploration of Metro Graffiti
In its exploration of metro graffiti, this thesis project posits that 1) red line D.C. graffiti engenders city experience, subtly linking people to place as well as to one another; and 2) the red line's story and its changing aesthetics embody the uncertain future of the city, itself. As a shared communicative practice, graffiti - transit or otherwise - is uniquely able to deconstruct space. Each graffiti writer's work on the red line is an ephemeral tie to those that consume it; connective tissue that binds purveyor and producer to each other and to a particular site. The mobility of metro contributes an added element of temporality to the practice of graffiti as a revolving cast of commuters are shuttled from stop to stop. Likewise, the red line is in a state of flux due to recent residential and cosmetic changes in the surrounding area. To this end, the term "metro graffiti" becomes a binary for transcience; a comprehensive tool for analyzing the intersections of public space, public transit and public art in D.C.Capturing the cultural overlap of metro graffiti is an art of polyvocality. Reading D.C. in the context of its aesthetics and documenting the red line's visual history requires qualitative research. As such, I attempt an ethnography of red line graffiti and a combined approach to my thesis that blends discursive and critical contextualist methodologies.My conclusions about metro graffiti, the ever-changing properties of the red line and our relationship to it, must consider all the stakeholders involved. Thus, the documentary element of my thesis is a means for synthesizing a collage of experience. Collecting first-hand interviews with those that directly interact with the space: graffiti writers, commuters, city officials, mural-associated art nonprofits and property owners along the red line, I will use individual accounts and opinions to identify the red line's impact on local identity and collective consciousness. All subjects will be recorded on video to facilitate the making of the film. Voluntary participation in the documentary will be gained via email outreach, through contact with arts-affiliated organizations and word of mouth. The nonprofit Words, Beats & Life, Inc. and local design/skate shop Art Under Pressure, will act as my project liaisons, using their existing contact base of red line graffiti writers and otherwise interested parties to coordinate interviews and promote participation on my behalf. These recognized bodies among the D.C. graffiti scene will essentially serve as middle-men and much-needed social capital in the process of my research.
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