Conferences · Education · graffiti

Discourse(s) in the Social Sciences

Tomorrow I am presenting at the conference ‘Discourse(s) in the Social Sciences’ at York University. Follow this link to find out more about the conference.

I am presenting the results of my masters dissertation, mainly because I am currently editing it in to a journal submission and I could really do with the feedback that is so valuable at conferences. This is my abstract:

‘InstaGraff’ – Authentic Graffiti Culture in Digital Space

Graffiti is a feature of urban centres, music videos, advertising campaigns, art galleries, auction houses, and magazines. The saturation of images of graffiti in ‘mainstream’ spaces demonstrates that graffiti subculture has developed at a rapid pace since the birth of Hip Hop graffiti during the 1970s. This study examines the social and technological advances that have prompted graffiti culture to appear in mainstream. Identifying the importance of the production of identity by young people, with the birth of Web 2.0, social media and user created content, as key turning points in the representation and accessibility of graffiti subculture. Analysing images from social media accounts, and relating the images to the works of Baudrillard (1970) ‘Simulacra and Simulation’, Goffman (1959) ‘Presentation of Self’, and Burgess (2007) ‘Vernacular Creativity and New Media’, enables us to understand graffiti culture in a digital age.

Within this study, the internet is conceptualised as a virtual city or cyber/space to be explored by the ‘virtual Flaneur’, using visual methods to perform a thematic analysis of 160 Instagram posts and 10 YouTube videos. The study reflected the production of online identity of two types of graffiti writer; the online graffiti writer and the urban graffiti writer. Urban graffiti writers used the internet to further reputation and entrepreneurial activities, whilst online graffiti writers used the liminal space offered by cyber/space to ‘try out’ graffiti writing identities without the risks associated to traditional urban graffiti writing.

This study proposes that the process of vernacular creativity as a mode of presentation of self by online graffiti artists, within the liminality of cyber/space, replicates existing graffiti images to such a point that cyber/space graffiti can be considered a procession of simulacra. Cyber/space graffiti flattens many aspects of graffiti subculture in to a symbolic procession of simulacra, simultaneously increasing breadth by including more graffiti writers, whilst decreasing in depth of knowledge, shared history, deviance and risk taking, and subcultural norms.

Feel free to have a look at my presentation slides here: Discourses 10 May York v4

The line up for the conference looks fantastic, and the conference organisers have included a methods workshop in the afternoon which I am really looking forward to!

I will let you know how it goes, and I will be tweeting throughout the day @NicolaAHarding.

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