Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Divinity in Charleston

The famous and historic city of Charleston, South Carolina is known for many things, but is not typically recognized for its role in the urban art movement. Charleston was, however, the original home of the 1986 Obey campaign, and played a small part in the phenomenology of Andre the Giant Has a Posse. OBEY spanned the globe, growing out of the cosmopolitan seaside city of Charleston, into a world-wide phenomenon in urban street art.

But this post isn't about the guy who famously created Andre the Giant has a Posse, and the Obama campaigns. This post is about two emerging graffiti campaigns - one spreading a message of the divine, and the other, on the side of The Cosmopolitan Charlestonian's house.

Over the course of the last few months a string of introspective graffiti art has been showing up on the streets of downtown Charleston. Applied by stencil, each one presents a thought-provoking statement to passers-by. The campaign's deeper substance, however, is rooted in the question, "what is 1.618?" And this is where divinity comes in.

The answer to the 1.618 question is, Phi.

For 1.618 is the measurement of divine proportion, also known as "the golden ratio." Studied by Divinci and found over and over again in nature, 1.618 is a representation of divine perfection and beauty.The depth of the message in a good graffiti campaign is not lost on us, but the line between property damage and free expression is often crossed by urban graffiti art. The difference between art appreciation and property value depreciation is obviously made clear when it happens to you.

Bad graffiti campaigns seem to crop up everywhere in Charleston regardless of the fact that Charleston's officials continuously fight the graffiti movement.

Perhaps one can imagine why we may not find the message sprayed on our own wall quite as intriguing as the 1.618 campaign. This note, making a billboard out of the side of our home, simply states, "I'd like to take over this corner." Too bad for the artist a local Sherwin Williams store is one block away, and they know how to match colors. We are armed with exterior paint.

Regardless of being vandalization victims, we are going to continue to look down for those subtle messages, inspired by the divine, being sprayed most typically at ankle level, or directly on random sidewalks.

Torn between art appreciation and victimization, we're simply left trying to compromise. So, we submit this - Dear Universe: If for some reason we are to be revisited by the Graffiti Gods....will you at least send the guy with the deeply thoughtful messages?