Sunday, June 14, 2009

Art or Crime?

A friend of a friend (or really, more like an acquaintance of an acquaintance) was recently arrested after violating the terms of his probation by building this:

He's done things like this before:

He was on probation for his habit of climbing up cranes and other places people aren't supposed to be, to take some amazing photographs. Here's a recent one taken from a stealth- trip to the top of the Brooklyn bridge:

My friend/aquaintence who knows him also does similar type things- he goes into abandoned buildings and likes to "take photographs of things most people don't get to see." The public art aspect is also reminiscent of Banksy a graffiti artist in England whose stuff I really like.

So...Art or Crime? Or both? This type of art couldn't exist without breaking the law...but does the artistic aspect justify the crime? Should people be prosecuted for creating art? Is the fact that it's art just an excuse and people should follow the law regardless? What is the difference between this and graffiti- other than the level of skill? And if so, what exactly is the cutoff point at which 'graffiti' becomes 'art'? And how come big giant corporations with lots of money are allowed to advertise in public spaces, while people without money who create public art that people enjoy are criminals? Are public messages only a purview of the rich? Personally I'd rather see places covered with graffiti than with advertisements...


  1. after I saw your post, I went to the Wooster Collective blog. It's a blog dedicated to street art. I saw this there:

  2. That's unbelievable. His art is awesome.

  3. No one should stop him from buying the materials and constructing these, even putting them in public places. I think it's the destruction of property that is a problem.

    Would he appreciate me doing art like this to his stuff?

  4. Justice is blind; judges are here to add in the human factor. Illegal artistry should only be prosecuted when property is damaged or the public endangered.
    This is not only with art. Same is with a little sense of humor. When asked by the agent, the passenger admits to carrying a couple nuclear bombs onboard. It’s only a joke in poor taste, but one liable to arrest.
    Same is with genius show-offs. Tricksters messed with electronic traffic signs to display silly messages. If motorists were put at risk, or if resources were wasted to correct the glitches, they should be punished. Remember when crackers who made into national intelligence systems were hailed as heroes? As the threat got real, they are no longer.

  5. I agree with Ginx here. These are awesome but he's damaging public goods in this fashion. He is however clearly very talented. Maybe he could talk to the people who run whatever city he lives in and see if he can work with them to liven up some stuff? Some cities might even give permission to an independent artist to do something like the second one.

  6. I agree, this doesn't really have to do with "big bad corporations". This has to do with destroying public property, which is not cool. I'm not sure why he couldn't have focussed his clearly enormous talent and gotten himself into a good art school on scholarship or something.

  7. I love his art, I would much rather look at his art than some billboard for MSNBC or something. He's so talented I'm jealous :oP

    However, I agree with A Pusheter Yid who wrote "Illegal artistry should only be prosecuted when property is damaged or the public endangered." If he's damaging someone else's property or endangering people, he should be prosecuted.

  8. ok, well let's put the issue of destruction of public property aside for a minute- this dude also climbs up things like cranes, bridges, watertowers, etc, to get crazy pictures from vantage points that most people can't get pictures from. That's the reason he was originally arrested, and why he was on probation.

    Is that wrong? He's not harming anyone (except potentially himself if he fell) or stealing anyone's property in those cases.

  9. His family would probably file a lawsuit, if he fell off a bridge or a crane and died. That's why these places don't want him climbing.

  10. Definitely art and crime. Or I should say the crime is part of the art. Almost asking "why is this a crime again?"

    What he's doing is not harmful to others, maybe a little dangerous for him, but its not immoral. He's just expressing himself in an original way.

    And graffiti is art. I've been in a couple of art history classes where we've studied graffiti (one of the classes was called "Public Art in America")

    Basically, the definition of art is there is no definition.

    I'm a personal fan of:

  11. If you want to be an artist, steer clear of art school. If you want to get into advertising, then by all means...

  12. The pic is ok, I wouldn't say it's the most amazing piece of photography I've ever scene. He could get the same view from a helicopter. The way he got the pic is the drama.

    He seems like an attention whore. Maybe he should settle down and do something with his talent rather than trying to get himself killed or arrested all the time. There are many ways to bring art into the public eye, that are safer and more beneficial to all. But I guess that would be boring.

    Btw, he's not only endangering himself when he does these crazy stunts. If he falls the wrong way, he could take someone else down as well. He could also "inspire" other lunatics to try the same stunts, and they could die. I'm troubled that none of these possibilities occurred to you when you were trying to make your friend's case.


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