Experiencing Street Art as Being Part of a Motion Picture (2016)
By Ingrid Katrine Amundsen
While cities with diverse economic bases are growing steadily (Kim and Short 2008, p. 48), urban lifestyles and expressions have become the dominant way of life. These urban lifestyles is explored through the city's spatial characters of various streets, different street stalls and the appearance of diverse and promising street art. Aftenposten (2014); one of Norway's largest newspapers, wants to call particular attention to how street art and the city landscape is evolving into a new gallery for innovative art in Oslo. Though, the notion of the city as a new form of gallery for artistical expressions, is not at all a new phenomenon. This has been the case for most cities in many decades! More accurately the streets of the cities are stages (Hubbard 2006, p. 63), whether its fashion at display, art or social expressions such as dance or music, being performed in the city streets. At these streets genuine art is created by the avantgarde artists, who are autonomous in their form of expression, and simultaneously are being moulded by their urban lifestyle and experiences, exhilarating imaginary worlds and impressions. They communicate their art, lifestyle and social being in the urban landscape and acquire other cultures, identity expressions and urban lifestyles like a sponge. On the stage of the streets, and in the urban scenery, the artist can express herself or himself freely, and utilize all their urban experiences. In their eye’s art is not something being displayed in galleries or museums but is shown in the open and free urban landscape. Art is therefore created, acted, performed and played out in the urban scenery, and at the streets as if it was part of a film scene. This view of the city as being cinematic, has a long tradition in urban geography, and film history:
"[T]he synergy of film and the city was cemented in cinema's earliest years, when film was used as a medium which allowed the urban citizens to make sense of the city. [F]ilm captured the restlessness and frenetic pace of the city. [In short, film] tells us much about the changing spatial forms and practices of urban life" (Hubbard 2006, p. 62).
In the view of Hubbard (2006, p. 63), the urban lifestyle and its artistical expressions; appearing in the street, is not a new form of gallery, the street is the stage; a new art forum, appearing in a long existing tradition for artsy urban expressions. At these stages, in these forums and in these urban sceneries, a new shape of art is being played out continuously, social identities are moulded and cultures occurs, are merged, collide or diminish. These diverse social identity expressions, and concentrations of different cultures, makes the city a hotbed of new art forms.
With this background I have set out to seek inspiration from film editing (cross-cutting or split-scene), system theory (displacements), (radical and trans) interdisciplinarity and photography (double exposure). All these methods or techniques makes it possible to make new combinations of existing elements, (Bertalanffy 1968); such as combining two or more unexpected theories, exploring different constellations of characters, or merging two or multiple unexpected layers of photography. The task is to; through the exploration of different characters, create a contrasting narrative and highlight heartfelt moments of the experience of being exposed to street art. This natural act of being exposed to street art and being part of a genuine urban scenery in motion, is akin to the experience of playing a role in a fiction film, whether it is the role of the artist, the resident or the visitor. This act of exploring these new art forms, is as though the artist's work, the city's residents and visitors appear in a genuine filmatic scene which unfolds or redeems at a daily basis in the city scenery. It also permits applying film editing, such as split-scene or cross-cutting, as a methodology in producing art. The split-scene methodology is in many ways the film producers answer to interdisciplinarity: while the film manufacturer will aim at contrasting or emphasize certain scenes and dialogues in his film to highlight fundamental aspects of the story, the scientist will however endeavour to accentuate or contrasting specific arguments in his scientific investigations. Taken together; the visitor, the resident, the artist and the scientist explore various dramatic roles, with different idiosyncratic reactions to street art. One way of exploring these various dramatic roles is by utilizing cross cutting as a method. At the Drama Resource webpage (2016), this drama technique inspired by film editing is expressed as follows:
"Cross-cutting (also called split-screen) is a drama technique borrowed from the world of film editing, where two scenes are intercut to establish continuity. In drama and theatre the term is used to describe two or more scenes which are performed on stage at the same time. This makes it possible to juxtapose scenes or snippets of scenes that happen at different times or in different places, using separate areas of the performance space. The technique is used to highlight or contrast a particular theme or aspect of the story. Using different groupings, both scenes could happen at the same time, or one could be frozen while the other comes alive. This can have a similar effect to spotlighting particular areas of the stage or using a split-screen in a film" (Drama Resource 2016).
As mentioned above; the cinematic drama of street art, consists of multiple roles. These diverse and often contrasting characters, is fundamental in understanding the complexity of street art. Although the different acts of the various characters exploration of street art, might appear as having great idiosyncratic discrepancy, their stories and worlds do interfere. In this complex and spontaneous intertwined situation, each story and each character, is just as vital as the other in completing the story of street art. Taken together all these idiosyncratic characters, constitute and define a new art forum: the street as the new art forum. My role in this new art forum alternates between being the resident, the visitor, the artist and the scientist, but most of all I am a true and genuine promoter of street art.
While the meaning and influence of street art is accelerating in complexity, magnitude and diversity, these thematical works on street art, have been created to document and explore these new art forms. Street art as possessing the ability to be diverse and innovative, is expressed through different characters: the resident, the visitor, the artist and the scientist. In this short text, I have explored my role as being the scientist and artist. The photography or double exposures on this front page, are expressed by me as an artist, visitor and resident (work in progress: photographies will be added). Taken together; these photographies, express the unpredictable randomness of outcome and the unexpected interpretation of meaning, made possible by utilizing double exposures, system theory and cross-cutting as a technical method for creating new forms of art. While diverse cities are growing, it's call for a methodology and scenery in which new forms of art can evolve rapidly. This text argues for creating a new form of art; through a symbiosis of methodology in science and art, by exploring the opportunities that exist within (radical and trans) interdisciplinary, systems theory, double exposure and cross-cutting. In exploring this symbiosis, new combinations within art and science, may emerge. In short, this text also implies that the centre of gravity for innovation within the art world is changing, and it is on the stage of the streets the future of ground-breaking new expressions of art, will manifest itself. These new expressions of art are already arising fast, though the spotlight of courtesies is now targeting the diversity of urban life and expressions, which innovative force and influence, is increasing rapidly. This change of gravity is empowering the residents, the visitors, the artists and the scientists, within cities. They are all characters in this continuously evolving urban art scenery. In this process, the street is the stage. The street is the New Art Forum! At this stage and in this forum, art is happening. It's capturing the restless frenetic pace and velocity of the city. It is innovative in its imaginary. Bold. It is diverse, free and including. It is street art. Go ahead and explore your complex, diverse and exhilarating dramatic character! You are at stage. You are part of and exploring a genuine filmatic experience. You are bold! We are bold.
What are your idiosyncratic character and reactions to street art? How is it discrepant to mine?
Bertalanffy, L., (1968). General System theory: Foundations, Development, Applications. New York: George Braziller, pp. 1-296.
Drama Resource (2016). Cross-cutting - Drama Strategies. [online]. Available at: dramaresource.com/cross-cut... . [Accessed: 06.08.2016].
Haugsvær, N., Aftenposten (2014). Han vil gjøre byen til et galleri. [online]. Available at: www.aftenposten.no/osloby/H... [Accessed: 06.08.2016].
Hubbard, P., (2006). The Represented City. City. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 59-95.
Kim, Y-H., and Short, J.R., (2008). Service industries and metropolitan economies. Cities and Economies. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 1-7.