Morley is the wrong type of street artist

If ever there was a confirmation about street art’s simultaneous power and ephemeral pointlessness it would have to be the self-described “graffiti artist” known as Morley.

I can only unpack his work as a pseudo-anti-corporate appropriation of a raw medium known as street graffiti. In other words I am unable to believe he is sincere in his attempts at graffiti art. I am not convinced of his discipline with the medium of public spaces.

His poster designs almost always frame him as a designer/artist promoting himself by displaying large depictions of himself engaged in signing/writing his own poster. The nature of his work doesn’t use his large signatures as irony. I’m referring to the potential irony of signing graffiti in order to present it in a fine arts tradition. No. That is not an irony I believe Morley employs like Basquiat may have. I think Morley wants credit. He wants you to know he made those posters and their benign messages.

So what’s wrong with that?

In a sense there is nothing wrong. Except for one thing. We should demand more from street artists because the public space is our space. It is political territory. It is complex. The summation of Morley’s “work” sets a strange, patronizing, naive tone. Something tells me that Morley doesn’t actually understand intensely urban areas where he proclaims his loud messages.

Is he able to reflect the cultural context of the locations where his work exists? Does he scope out the demographics of the area in order to understand the impact of his “messages” in that setting?

If he were just an artist I would mumble my comments to myself. Sure. Let him make his posters and paintings with his messages. Sell them on sidewalks in Venice beach. Anywhere. Whatever. However Morley positions himself as a street artist and seems wholly unaware of the complexity of that role.

Street art requires a duty to one specific issue: an artist is attempting to reclaim a space. The questions that come after that are: Why? Why are you reclaiming this location? What do you understand of this location? What do you intend to say? Why should a person accept your message at the risk of impugning the private property of another?

It is an anthropological exercise as well. Sure, that’s now how most graffiti artists handle it but those who get it at least implicitly are better artists.

Street art is political.

It acknowledges a deep truth about society. The streets may be slightly aligned in a social contract of property ownership and shared spaces for now. However at any moment the public may decline that social contract. The graffiti artist, at their best, is an act of protest against humdrum complicity with zoning, concepts of property, advertising, etc. It will always provoke and should always represent a challenge to our understanding of the space around us.

Graffiti is also about the culture it derives from and reflects. Gang graffiti can speak deeply and profoundly about a community. The public should always have a tense relationship with graffiti. It needs to be problematic. It should ask us to reflect on whether we approve of the message at the risk of legitimizing defaced property. We should at times embrace it. We should at times offer caution.

So where is Morley in all this?

Occasionally you’ll see his Hallmark card message on down and dirty street corners.

“In heaven we all get a soundtrack.”
Is that intended for the 58 year old El Salvadoran immigrant carrying her groceries?

“Actions speak louder than status updates”
The homeless youth leaving a shelter nearby must’ve been moved by this one on Western Ave.

Give Get Up”
I don’t even want to know where this one may have been placed. Hope no one was sleeping on the sidewalk nearby.

The act of defacement/reclaiming is a loud act. You are shouting on the walls. You are reminding the public that something exists here that is not necessarily an advert. The act means something. It should represent evidence of a regular citizen declaring that there is something to be said and can be said on this property.

Because this act is aggressive, the artist needs to take this into account. The artist should pick their message carefully OR recognize that you risk offending.

I’m willing to accept the notion that Morley knows he’s obnoxious and his messages are patronizing and insulting and only appeal to a narrow demographic. I am willing to accept that outcome. But guess what. I don’t think he sees it that way.

The presentation of Morley’s work comes with a thick layer of “I’m here to help you”. It’s always messages of hope through a cultural narrowness. Are his slogans about Instagram intended for people without smartphones? Does he care? Again, when you take the initiative to shout on walls and street corners you open yourself up to complicated dynamics.

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Oh look, someone is suffering! “In my eyes you’re already a movie star!” That should help.

Who is Morley truly speaking to? Does that matter to him?

Morley’s work exists within a small prism. It’s english only in some streets where that’s rather useless. It’s politeness belies that poverty and pain of the context it is sometimes presented within. However my protest against him is actually against this strain of graffiti work. There are many others who deserve scrutiny for their naive messaging disguised as a helpful gesture: Wordsmith, Mr Brainwash, others.

I’d like to make a very open statement that Morley should go on sabbatical. Live in the communities where you want to engage in public art (Yeah. I’m assuming he doesn’t live the corner of Western and Santa Monica). Learn about the people you are poorly speaking to. Talk to them. Then reflect on the nature of your messaging. Come back in a year or two.

Selected Projects from the first half of 2017

Warehouse party in the Los Angeles artist’s district. Video collage and additional OpenGL programming.

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OpenGL + Twitter feed proof of concept

Content from specific twitter feeds are presented in an OpenGL visualization.

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Vaporwave themed video collage

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Pulsar VJ material

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Illustration concepts in WebVR

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Max/MSP Studies


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Illustrations + Video VJ material for Tickle Torture

tickle_ink from estevancarlos on Vimeo.

Graphic Design

Currently offering interactive, VJing for events

I’d like to introduce VEVE, a new company offering live and interactive visualizations. We are still developing the right portfolio and presentation but I’d like to offer a sneak peek at things in the pipeline. I am also seeking potential clients and collaborators who are interested in what they see. Contact me.

#Immigration Hackathon Project

I took the opportunity recently to finally attend a hackathon event held by the city of Los Angeles and officially supported by the mayor. It was an amazing experience that reminded me about my passion for social and civil matters. Belize The theme of this particular hackathon was immigration and a very interesting assortment of people showed up for the event: activists, non-profit members, and technologists.

I joined a group who decided to create an “all in one” web application that addressed the many needs of new immigrants and/or uninformed immigrants in the Los Angeles area. Our perspective is that many services and resources exist across the city but are either hard to find or it’s difficult to find the good services. list of domains Our discussion was very rewarding and it reminded me of my time as a graduate researcher working on a project for the displaced people after Hurricane Katrina. best places to visit One of the key things I tried to stress with the group is that this web application needs to be optimized for those who want to HELP others. We fully understand that not every immigrant in L.A. who is seeking services will have a smartphone with a data plan, let alone speak english.

I’ll discuss the project in more detail as time goes on but we’re all excited and hope to submit this to a final city-wide competition in a few months. Here is a very early process chart showing how a user would flow through portions of this web application.

AskAng-Process-822015

Experimental Solutions in Ableton Live: Download a sample of the new eBook

Experimental Solutions in Ableton Live

I have been sitting on the development of the book for some time and decided to use an interesting publishing platform to present it. I will be adding content and finishing the book while simultaneously promoting it on LeanPub.com. The platform encourages a lean philosophy and regular update system for ebook publishing. It’s pretty sensible with regard to technical books, which mine is.

Download a Sample Chapter

Experimental Solutions in Ableton Live will focus on introducing music theory and history within the context of the DAW software Ableton Live. I was inspired to address this topic, first and foremost because I am a musician but also as a counterpoint to the EDM obsessed training that currently exists online. Not everyone wants to learn how to make Dubstep. Some young producers should probably understand a bit of theory and musical history as in order to frame their work and goals.

The book will introduce topics of algorithmic music, generative music, and aleatoric music. I present interesting techniques available in Ableton Live and connect the dots to music theory.

Technologist, Generalist, or can I call myself a techno-polymath?

For some years now I’ve felt sincere frustration at my generalist habits. Even embarrassment. I’ve had a difficult time priding my study habits. For a few years I spent time doing photography with classes in high school and college. During my pre-teens I made a dramatic turn from illustration to music composition. In between music I focused on graphic design and web design. And here I am today: nearly thirty-three years old and I’m neck-deep in the subjects of computer science, electronics, algorithmic art, and interaction design.

For a while I considered my generalist approach to be professionally beneficial. It briefly was. I could help develop a website and design marketing materials. Well, in fact it still is useful. I recently produced music for marketing material at a place where I work as a front-end developer. However I when I look at the industry around me, I see nothing but businesses needing strict specialization for the most part. It’s left me feeling a bit insecure until I read this amazing article on the benefits of being a polymath.

“What’s more, the further afield your knowledge extends, the greater potential you have for innovation.”
Master of many trades via: aeon.co

The article really took me back to my earlier perspective. I used to embrace my need to learn as a significant process of understanding complicated relationships. I thrived on it. I felt privileged to be a musician and graphic designer as I had the benefit of relating overlapping concepts. As my career concerns took hold though, I started to question this. server address . How many employers want or need diverse skill sets? How many even recognize it as a sign of ability or innovativeness? I don’t know but I’m willing to defend it now.

Maybe the lack of polymaths is the reason so many disparate departments are unable to communicate with each other? The developer doesn’t always have time to teach the marketing department about the technical resources available to them how it can benefit their new campaign. Maybe misunderstanding the polymath is how some companies fail to connect certain dots. I can see now that it can truly inhibit innovation when there are a lack of people understanding strategic relationships.

Instead of hiding from this, I know now that I need to defend it. The pursuit of knowledge is never a detriment to business needs–it has to be a requirement.

Future Proof – Robotics and socio-economics?

It was a couple years ago that my girlfriend told me, “I want to study robotics” and my jaw dropped. I’m not entirely sure why. It wasn’t because she wanted to learn the subject. It wasn’t because I find the subject absurd. Instead I think it was because I had no idea that was a field of interest. I completely overlooked it. buy a domain Robotics never entered my fray. I was impressed that she had such a different view of the world that robotics was a subject she felt was appropriate to pursue and it probably is. I suspect this is about as future-proof as you can be at the moment.

During our discussions on her professional aspirations, we often talk about how difficult it has been for her and others to get to that next phase of life. We have so many right now who are unprepared to survive in a new American world. The transition from older ideas to the peculiar face of new realities has been harsh on some. cheap car rent In this context I’m only speaking of the educational-professional dynamic.

A few times over the years my father has expressed that I need to find a good job and stick to it in the long term, so that I may move up and reap the benefits. My mother recently made a decision that has greatly, negatively impacted her ability to find a new job. She was under the impression that finding a new job would be reasonable for a person passionate enough to find one. Unfortunately, this is the old worldview. These are no longer the rules. My father has come around and realizes workers my age have to abide by new norms. We can’t depend on a company to take care of us into retirement. My mother… now has to live on a very limited income. She unfortunately understands that there are no jobs for persons with no education. This is a painful thing for me to handle.

Both my parents are un/undereducated. It’s something they were able to get away with as many people of their generation can. The children of that generation do not have the same benefits but that wisdom isn’t always passed down. We often hear about the educated youth who are unable to find work in this economy. We continue to ignore the un/undereducated youth who have so much potential but don’t have the resources for an education.

A recent NPR report discusses the issue: A Silent Majority Of Undereducated And Underemployed Millennials

Despite what I know I’ve just expressed, a limited education is no longer a guarantee and the economics of educational specialization are now more critical than ever. That’s why I find my partner’s interest in robotics so intriguing. While so many make plans for a future they want to live next year, robotics seems to be a strange field that speaks more about the future fifteen years from now. A future I suspect even fewer people are going to be prepared for.