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Street Art Projects: Google and Beyond

Cruising through the city streets, street art appears at times like an inspiration apparition in the most grittiest of spaces, at the most random glance moments. Look down at the sidewalk and you might see an unexpected message in spray paint, chalk or crayon to change your entire outlook for the day:
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or inspire you to pay attention in a new way, to open up the mystery of a “who made this?” jolt enough to compel a photo-click…an upload…or flat out bring out the brushes, wheat paste and spray cans to create your own murals and wall art:

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Once you begin to notice random graffiti messages and the appearance of urban art, your Twitter and Instagram feed will never be the same. Remixed images from pop culture, Queens, Divas, random images and the voices of those less known or heard echo from the walls of the city landscape. Some artists such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Swoon have gone from the anonymity of the streets to make successful careers as well-known artists who continue to serve as social change agents in their own right.

In an attempt to help capture a mostly ephemeral art form of public, semi-anonymous and often social change-driven art, in 2014, Google announced an ambitious project to create an online shareware friendly gallery called the Street Art Project, an online depository of over 5000 graffiti images from around the world.

The Street Art Project is an extension of the Google Art Project, which allows you to virtually explore museum collections and exhibitions found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many others. The project has now grown to nearly 70,000 artworks.

The Street Art Project allows you to search the archive by artist, geography (with an interactive map), topic and key words with an eye to preservation, appreciation and documentation by non-artist-appreciators and artists alike. Google’s Lucy Schwartz writes of the project on the official Google blog,

“The transient nature of street art means it can be at risk of being scrubbed out and lost forever to its legions of fans, but long after the paint has faded from the walls, technology can help preserve street art, so people can discover it wherever and whenever they like… Street art may be temporary on our walls and sidewalks, but its beauty and vibrancy live on, on the web.”

This week, The Viral Media Lab celebrates #beyondicelebs #streetart…Join in on your chosen social media platform! Who are your favorite street artists? What kind of visual treasure do deem worth capturing? What did you discover on the Google Street Art Project?

(photos by Kathleen Sweeney: New York City, Williamsburg, Chinatown and Galway, Ireland, ©2015-16)

Check out Street Art and other Utopias to learn more!




There are 21 comments

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  1. Valeria Maxera

    Honestly, I believe street art is one of the most beautiful ways to express one’s idea. Instead of just painting in a canvas, they decided to paint in a brick wall, the floor, mirror, etc. I have a a lot of favorite street artists, but the most favorite one I have is called Blu. He has a very unique style that has always been presented in all of his political statements, and powerful imagery he presents. What I discovered in the Google Street Art project is that street art is a way of one presenting a problem or even expressing their own feelings against the norm. It’s a way to experiment with ones political feelings and own emotions towards the norm.

    In the link above, I attached my website where one can see a lot of street art picture I have found online and in the streets.

    http://maxev750.tumblr.com

    • John Wilson

      “What I discovered in the Google Street Art project is that street art is a way of one presenting a problem or even expressing their own feelings against the norm.”

      This is part of the beauty of street art is that more often than not the message isn’t just about being bold but also trying to call out a particular concern an artist might have to the well being of humanity. I love the images you captured. My favorite is the phone booth; it really calls (pun intended) to the attention of conforming to the party scene (not above a note) and it not being for everyone. At least that is what I took out of it 🙂

  2. Leah

    I spent some time recently in Reykjavik Iceland and everywhere you went there was some art on the side (or front) of a building. It seemed like a way of life for the locals, they embrace art in all forms and instead of covering up tagging, they create stimulating images using spray paint. It makes you think about what the specific artist was trying to share and the story within the piece. Street artists have really stepped up their game all over the world lately, in cities where tagging was very prominent, like New York and Chicago, you see more full art pieces now. I’ve been noticing a lot of “Protect your heART” images all over Manhattan lately and was so curious as to what it represents. I’m glad that Google and the Street Art Project are taking strides toward recognizing these artists and following their work.

    Check out some of my favorite Icelandic street art here: https://girlswithoutborders.net/2016/04/13/reykjavik-street-art/

    • John Wilson

      Wow I love these pieces you shared from Iceland. The first one is very striking and rich with colors. Regarding the Protect your heART images, I never really noticed them but now I am sure I will see them every where (cause that is how the rules of awareness go 🙂

  3. Chloe Wang

    Street art has always been something that I pay a lot of attention to, especially in the city because it is everywhere. My favorite street artist is Banksy. This is because, his art tells a story and sends out a message. His messages usually focus on anti-war, anti-capitalist, or anti-establishment. In 2013, he did a one month show on the streets of New York City, which I avidly followed on social media, as well as going to see the actual works of art. Apart from Banksy, I also am a huge fan of Bradley Theodore, whose works of art can also be found around the city. His artworks use a lot of different vibrant colors, mixing and matching elements of fashion and art. Unlike Banksy who sends messages, Bradley Theodore focuses more on aesthetics and his works of art are visually appealing.

    I think that the Google Street Art Project is useful because it preserves street art and documents it so that people can always come back to it. Not only that but that street art is a global thing and it exists around the world. I find that interesting because I wonder if the subjects of the artwork varies from city to city.

    • John Wilson

      I am also a big fan of Banksy. My friend lives off of 79th and Broadway and I love seeing his piece with the little boy and his sledge hammer when I walk to her place. It is iconic and now a part of New York since someone put up a piece of plexiglass to protect it. It’s fun how the notion of street art has changed in the since that some communities just wanted to get rid of it while now the community fights to maintain it’s survival. That in itself is a change in awareness by seeing the beauty in the art instead of the chaos.

  4. Kristi

    One of my favorite things about street art is when there is a hashtag involved. Once you add a hashtag, a slogan or a link to the artist with their @____ it makes the project so much more. especially if it something along the lines of the “protect yo heart” post that has circulated so widely. It connects a community of people with similar interests who may never meet which is an extraordinary concept.
    I was personally extremely excited for the interactive mat on the Goole Art Project. I chose surprise me and ended up in Russia. I can identify both similarities and differences in a world wide culture of street art. Street art is such a large portion of the hip hop culture which I am greatly involved in. It’s exciting to expand beyond my realm of vision. In visiting California this summer I went to Venice Beach where there as an entire area dedicated to graffiti, I stood around for a while just watching artists. Sometimes its so hard to catch them in the act and it was fulfilling to see something I admire so much come to life in front of my eyes along with how complex it truly is.

    • John Wilson

      “One of my favorite things about street art is when there is a hashtag involved. Once you add a hashtag, a slogan or a link to the artist with their @____ it makes the project so much more.”

      I think what is so alluring to artist who add in hashtag’s and @ is because the piece not only becomes cataloged and saved digitally, it really because interactive because folks begin to share and talk about what they have seen.

      Taking this a step further, I love Interactive street art which challenges people to become one with the piece and interact with it. Here are some really cool examples. – http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/5-cool-examples-of-interactive-street-art

  5. Madison Porter

    I absolutely love street art. It’s fascinating to see little tags or murals around the cities I’ve lived in and think someone came up with the idea and made it come alive. I love Banksy and Invader. It’s almost unreal when you see their pieces in person, because that’s where they actually created the piece and it can’t be moved anywhere else. I think it is important to capture pop culture, politics, etc. in a way that everyone can see and experience it. Street art voices not only the opinions of the artist, but usually the views of the majority. It is almost a universal way of letting the public know how you feel with murals, sculptures, or tags.

    I believe that all street art should be captured and, in a way preserved, like what the Google Street Art Project has been doing. The public should see these messages and creative ideas, even if they don’t live in the same city. I loved searching on the Google Street Art Project and finding pieces that I’ve seen in person. Chagall’s ceiling mural in the Paris OpĂ©ra House is incredible and everyone should be able to see it. I didn’t realize there was such a street art scene in Coachella Valley.

  6. Tara

    One thing that’s really fascinating to me about street art its simultaneous demolition. On one hand it’s been elevated to this great art form and on the other Five Points in Queens is being shut down. It raises the question what is “street art” and what is “graffiti.” My mom and grandma are obsessed with street art and we went on tours in London to look at it. It was so bizarre to me. I really love street art/graffiti because I was really intrigued by the origins of it in New York. The train bombings were so cool to me and I think it’s really unfortunate that they were all cleaned up, but street art isn’t meant to be preserved. I think it boils down to a race issue.

    • John Wilson

      “On one hand it’s been elevated to this great art form and on the other Five Points in Queens is being shut down. ”

      As you will see from my post, when Five Pointz closed it broke my heart. I get that real estate is real estate but the owner of the land could have made that space a landmark to encourage artist to be bold, brave and profound with their work by giving them that canvas. Instead I heard they sold out and are now building a luxury high-rise. I am sure it will be filled with people who will consider themselves artsy and classy…the irony to this is unsettling.

  7. Christina Murray

    I have loved graffiti as far back as I can remember. Growing up in Southern California, whenever my family would take road trips, I would bring my sketchbook and try and copy the lettering from the graffiti under bridges. Back then it was usually gang tags and writing, and it wasn’t seen as the art form it is today. I love that graffiti is now seen as the art that it always was, and has been a great way to get kids off the street. With street art going mainstream, it is an inspiration to many. One of my favorite street artists, who is now quite popular is Doze Green. He grew up in New York City and has his work in many galleries including the Jonathan Levine gallery. As with others, I also love Banksy, Invader, and Shephard Fairey. I really enjoyed the film, Exit Through the Gift Shop. It was interesting to see the story unfold into the story behind who would become to be known as Mr. Brainwash.

    Graffiti is a way to express yourself in an artistic way. As seen with Banksy’s work, it can create awareness and evoke change as well. One example of this was his Dismaland being turned into refugee housing. I enjoyed the Google Street Art Project, one of the artists I enjoyed was Andrey Adno, I love the dimension of his art.
    https://worldwellfed.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/street-art/

  8. John Wilson

    It is lovely to be walking along and come upon a piece of art that is out in the great, big open world. And what better place than to witness works of street art then the Big Apple. About two years ago (when I was leaving the MOMA in Queens, I heard this bass-tastic music coming from what seemed to be the heavens. A party at 2:00 PM in the middle of Queens…sweet, I thought. As I let the music guide me, I came to place that only dreams are made of; 5 PointZ.

    If any of you have had the honor (like myself) to have had a chance to see this place you will know what it is just so special. I am sad to say that the original place was torn down do to greedy real-estate agents but the community still survives in different parts of New York. Like a drifter, 5 PointZ is trying to find it’s next home where the artist can take root, and do what they do best…inspire other artist. In tribute to 5 Pointz, I posted below some links about this amazing place and it’s history.

    It is extremely important that projects like the Street Art Project exist because these artist work are captured in a way that is both respectful of the artist as well as gives them historical value since the work might not maintain it’s location due to many reasons.

    5 Points Wiki – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Pointz
    5 Pointz (RIP)- http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2014/0826/5-Pointz-down-NYC-demolishes-storied-graffiti-shrine-video
    5 Points lives again – http://ny.curbed.com/2015/9/29/9916136/in-a-brooklyn-lumber-yard-graffiti-mecca-5pointz-lives-on

  9. rhea goyal

    #StreetArt #beyondicelebs

    “Street art is visual art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned artwork executed outside of the context of traditional art venues. The term gained popularity during the graffiti art boom of the early 1980s and continues to be applied to subsequent incarnations.”

    Writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place have a short life span, weather or just city rules banish such art over time. As read in the @vmlab post there is a perseverance of this art through the technology. The Street Art Project is an initiative that archives this art that is accessible through the years and keeps adding new art to the oldest ones. Hence, if they are gone they art still lives on through this archival.

    5 pointz was one of the greatest graffitis I had ever seen and images are what lives on from that space. This kind of art is instinctual and theres a rush and personal touch to it, its usually done overnight but the more complex ones take longer. Most time you see words scribbled and they are done illegally. But there maybe a motive for all this art that is portrayed. It is a self-expression done
    to let the message reach its viewers.

    http://rheagoyall.tumblr.com/post/142889499144/street-art-project

    • John Wilson

      Rhea – I really love all of the street art you captured. Some are the simple messages which we often forget (Protect Yo Heart), then there are those you see which are like memories; old but still the way you remember them to be. And of course there others that are more bold and broad with there strokes. Makes me want to walk all around the city and see what hidden gems I too can find.

  10. Anika Pivarnik

    Street art is a platform with the unique ability to reach unprecedented numbers of people at little to no cost. The spontaneous and sometimes controversial placement of graffiti and stickers provokes a strong and varied public reaction that is difficult to achieve through other traditional art forms. Fine art, for example, is often only accessible to those who have both the resources and cultural awareness to it. Street art does not discriminate: it is available to anyone in the given area that it is placed, regardless of financial status, political viewpoint, or other background.
    The accessibility of graffiti is accentuated by its lack of financial motivation. While fine art is expensive to purchase and to showcase, which can be constraining for both the artist and the viewer, graffiti is one of the few remaining platforms for artistic expression and free speech that does not necessitate financial transaction. The ability for other graffiti artists to respond to a message further encourages free speech and artistic “democracy”. As a result, street artists often choose to feature social messages in their work. However, graffiti becomes problematic when it appears without permission from building owners, thus creating significant legal obstacles within the industry. I remember reading once that Shepard Fairey was arrested over sixteen times. I wonder if it would be possible for society to achieve a type of legislation that would balance the need for creative freedom with the need for respect for private property.

  11. Morgan Gilersleeve

    I really enjoyed the top of this week, because street art is one of the most facto sting things to me. As a very visual person, I am very aware of the world around me. What I love most about street art is its ability to make such an impact on so many different people. There have been countless times where I was feeling down and my whole mood and perspective was changed by a piece of street art I came across. What a fascinating and amazing thing that our world is a giant canvas and I love the idea of people leaving their ideas and marks all over it. What I love about art is its ability to impact so many people in so many different ways. What I see in a painting could have a profound impact on me in a completely different way it may on the next person.

    My favorite street artist and artist of all time is Jean Michele Basquiat. I have written about him in depth in a past post on my blog, but his story and his work as truly an inspiration. He was profoundly innovative in the way he thought, changed the way people thought about art and race in art. He is truly amazing and I suggest anyone to chancel him out of you do not know who he is!

  12. SZU-CHEN DOLEON

    Street art is stunning. I often walk on the street and pay no attention about things and people around me but had shocked by a graffiti. To me, the reason why street art often impact people so much is because the subjects are often about people. Different people have different thinking and reflection to those graffiti.
    My favorite street artist is Zilda.(http://zildastreetart.blogspot.com/). Especially his work, ” L’Ange du soir “, it reminded me that even angel might have fallen to the earth. Nowadays, people often forget about what they’re alive. Each person has his/her special reason that he/she has been given life to.

  13. Yiwen Li

    Street art was once considered to be ” sabotage ” and unpopular, but now it is popular again. At an auction, street art paintings race looks expensive. Many cities have particular area for street art and mural design for visiting. Street art is usually given to people polarized views; some people see it as a destruction, defacement, crazy, assault, and intimidation; but some people think that graffiti is a real aesthetic product, it can let suppresser to speak humanity’s confession.
    I was very impressed by DAleast’s street art. DALeast use paint discharge lines seemingly piece of metal debris, and then a combination of these fragments become a seemingly 3D stereoscopic graphic paintings. His works are incredible. It is hard to imagine these are doodles hastily completed.

  14. John Wilson

    Not sure what happened but I posted the below on here a while ago and now it isn’t on here so I reposted:

    It is lovely to be walking along and come upon a piece of art that is out in the great, big open world. And what better place than to witness works of street art then the Big Apple. About two years ago (when I was leaving the MOMA in Queens, I heard this bass-tastic music coming from what seemed to be the heavens. A party at 2:00 PM in the middle of Queens…sweet, I thought. As I let the music guide me, I came to place that only dreams are made of; 5 PointZ.

    If any of you have had the honor (like myself) to have had a chance to see this place you will know what it is just so special. I am sad to say that the original place was torn down do to greedy real-estate agents but the community still survives in different parts of New York. Like a drifter, 5 PointZ is trying to find it’s next home where the artist can take root, and do what they do best…inspire other artist. In tribute to 5 Pointz, I posted below some links about this amazing place and it’s history.

    It is extremely important that projects like the Street Art Project exist because these artist work are captured in a way that is both respectful of the artist as well as gives them historical value since the work might not maintain it’s location due to many reasons.

    I have also included some photos (two from the web and four from my trip) so you can see how glorious a place it was.

    5 Points Wiki – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Pointz (Links to an external site.)

    5 Pointz (RIP)- http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2014/0826/5-Pointz-down-NYC-demolishes-storied-graffiti-shrine-video (Links to an external site.)

    5 Points lives again – http://ny.curbed.com/2015/9/29/9916136/in-a-brooklyn-lumber-yard-graffiti-mecca-5pointz-lives-on (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

  15. Alexander Silva

    I would have to say that I don’t necessarily have a specific street artist. As someone who is partially colorblind, I find that I am most compelled to look at anything that is vivid and bright. Whenever I find myself on the street, I’lll glance over at large walls and murals but unless something is absolutely standing out, I don’t really stop to look at it.

    Anything that evokes happiness from within is something that is worth stopping and paying attention to, in my own personal opinion.

    Recently I’ve been noticing the Water Tank Project of New York City which is aimed to make the average water tanks sitting atop plenty of budding in our city well, prettier. I currently live in West Chelsea and above my building was a piece name “THE LOVE DOLL/DAY 24 (DIVING), 2010.” Up until the Google Street Art Project I hadn’t really paid close attention to the work of art but as something so blue and serene in a city so crowded and busy, it is something that for a while now has been playing in the back of my mind. I really enjoy how Google adds an artist statement to make it even more personal.

    Artist’s Statement
    “Since I moved to New York many years ago I’ve wondered what it would be like to swim in a water tank. The Love Doll gets to enact this fantasy for me.”

    —Laurie Simmons


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