The flourishing script on the side of a boxcar, a lamppost, or a litter-strewn doorway has long been seen as an act of vandalism by some, a welcome glimpse of street art by others, an act of defiance and self-expression by the creators. Thanks to grafedia.net and its creator, John Geraci, "tagging" can now be something more.
The website defines grafedia as "words written anywhere, then linked to images, video, or sound files online." A word--penned, chalked, painted on any surface, underlined in blue--becomes a hyperlink that you can text message from your cellphone and receive a response. Grafedia is an innovatively subversive way of further breaking down the barrier between our notions of the "real" world and the virtual one, a way of interweaving the two.
A project that turns a sidewalk into a webpage? Whoís behind this? I e-mailed John Geraci to see what he had to say for himself.
Who are you? What is your background?
"Iím John Geraci, I live in Brooklyn and am from San Francisco. I just graduated from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, which is where I created Grafedia, for an independent study. Before ITP, I lived in SF and did internet stuff and took art classes at CCA on the side. I studied American Studies in my undergrad at University of California, so all of my tech work has a sort of anthropological/cultural strain to it."
What is your aim in creating Grafedia.net?
"I was in an environment at school where everyone was creating interactive tech projects that could exist only in galleries, or on
stage, or in some other controlled environment. It seemed so limiting. I wanted to create something that could be done anywhere, by anyone, without consent from others. I wanted to bring interactive art to the outdoors, to an uncontrolled environment. All of my projects now have that element to them. By doing things outdoors, out of the control of the gallery or school or whatever, a project is more explosive--you turn it loose on the public and you have no idea where people will go with it. Much more exciting than doing something with an interactive video screen.
I also, for Grafedia, wanted to combine the highest, most advanced form of technology (personal mobile devices) with the most basic, primal form of technology (writing on walls with chalk/pen/pencil). The basic rhetoric to Grafedia, though, is that itís "turning walls into webpages" and extending the boundaries of the internet to include physical space. Those are the ideas I was playing with at the time."
What inspires you?
"Walking around the streets. I get all of my ideas walking around, popping into some cafe or taco store, dodging into an alleyway, riding a crowded subway. I need to be looking at people and places to get ideas. I hate looking at a computer all day long. Also music, in particular certain albums that catch everyone off guard and totally change the music scene. I love albums where you can actually hear the shock of the people who first heard it. Thatís so great when that happens."
Coffee drinking, fossil & handbag collecting artist Natasha Quam is the founder of líange atelier, a studio specializing in one-of-a-kind jewelry, clothing, and purses crafted from found and recycled materials. Never having met a storm cloud she didnít like, Natasha is currently on sabbatical in Northeast Iowa, exploring her roots and praying for tornadoes.