HEY is a video slideshow
of 250+ graphic texts from an ongoing series exploring found graffiti. It continues an experiment with language
, bold colours and geometric
shapes first used with a pop-up print installation, Jeder Traum Hat Seinen Weg.
Running for 27 minutes on loop, the video presents a selection of words and messages vandalised across Europe and beyond. It comes from a collection of raw graffiti that began from 2011, an active process of random discovery, documentation and, more recently, appropriation. The project began as a personal curiosity but has since continued to develop as new ideas emerge over time.
The video slide is the latest iteration of this concept, absorbing new texts accumulated from another recent project, I Am Here Too, which attempted to simulate encounters that stimulated the compulsive act of mark-making.
Moving away from its initial function as straightforward photographic records, the foundation of this project, each image aims to transform the texts into visual entities that may carry possibilities beyond its fixed physical point of origin. It is an attempt to use raw graffiti as material for image-making by simultaneously exploring its aesthetic, symbolic and/or semantic potential.
Furthermore, unlike its street art variety, the raw imprints featured in this work are often ephemeral and easily missed, ignored, dismissed or forgotten - typically lost within a palimpsest of information and images that occupy urban landscapes. This video and the wider graffiti project is an effort to see (and share): to look at this peripheral material and consider what it might show (whatever that may be) through a process of accumulation, observation and visualisation.
This work follows an established tradition in art that explores the potential of language. Jenny Holzer, a pioneer in the so-called text art, was instructive in this process, particularly from her early use of light signs in New York, to the ongoing Projections (1996-2017) in public spaces around the world, and the more recent It Is Guns (2018) display van that travelled across the USA as a campaign for gun control following a school shooting.
Contemporary artist Robert Montgomery was also informative in the way he deploys various methods to present his writing as visual material, often using lights and billboards in unexpected locations with works like The People You Love Become Ghosts Inside of You And Like This You Keep Them Alive (2010), a luminous text sculpture lit with solar power (or ‘recycled sunshine’ as he calls it).