Reverse Graffiti Project in San Francisco

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Artist Moose and the Green Works company joined forces in 2008 to create a 140-foot-long mural in San Francisco’s Broadway Tunnel. Instead of adding a new physical layer to the wall, the artist made his drawing appear by eliminating the layer of dirt and pollution that had accumulated over decades due to the effect of vehicles. According to the technique pioneered by Moose itself and popularly known as reverse graffiti, only cardboard templates and high-pressure water were required for the execution of the work.

The mural by the British artist reproduces the indigenous vegetation of California that used to occupy the place where now stands the tunnel. However, in the context of cultural sustainability perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from this work is its clever use of the pre-existing conditions. Despite the negative connotations of the context, the artist takes full advantage of it to get something beneficial.

In environmental terms, the contrast between the original colour of the wall and the accumulated pollution invites to reflect on the (in)visible process of pollution suffered by the city. Besides, its gradual disappearance over the years acts as an indicator that makes this process clear. In the words of the artist, “every mark is an environmental message, in whatever I do. It’s written in our dirt so it has a resonance to it, like the truth appearing semi-ghostlike from the fabric of the city”.

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The reverse graffiti technique has been replicated in other parts of the world by different artists, in some cases having generated great controversy after being banned. The point is, who owns the pollution of the urban space?

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(via Ads of the World)

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(images by fogcityfog)

(images by mrsmullerauh)