All You See Is Crime in the City

18 Apr 2008

Evan of G.R.L. holding one of tags from the lab's collection.

Sip, sip.

At its root, hip-hop has always mixed tech and middle-finger D.I.Y. with open-source. It’s why there are so many different “purple drank” recipes on the web and the raison d’être of the Urban Dictionary. Enter the Graffiti Research Lab — one of the more novel embodiments of all three of these things, but with the backing of the art establishment.

You might have missed the last time when G.R.L. got the MoMa invite, or thought that since the words “F— You Snobs,” appeared in their presentation sometime after a phallus that they’d fail to get another. But the fusion of tech, open-source, and street art is just too compelling a concoction to turn down and thus the G.R.L.’s DVD will make its New York premier at MoMa in two weeks. There is, to be sure, an alluring tight rope that separates the worlds of the graf (anti) establishment and the places where the film has shown — places like Sundance. Many of the graf writers in attendance in the video below obscure their faces even as the bubbly swirls around them — probably as much for affect as for security, but the point is inescapable.

G.R.L. @ M.o.M.A. from fi5e on Vimeo.

In speaking with Evan, one of the founders, nearly two years ago, he mentioned that one of the difficult parts in getting started was in convincing many of the graf writers that he wasn’t out to arrest them. But in graffiti as in hip-hop, being more visible or “up” trumps being obscure (I’m sure Shepard Fairey and Marc Ecko would agree). It follows, then, that the party video is set to Jay-Z and not the Artifacts. Let’s just hope they swerve the right drinks at the after-party.

Ah, what the hell. Artifacts from back in the day:

True to their D.I.Y. roots, the G.R.L. has made a torrent of their dvd available here.
4/21/08: NYPost says that NYC graf is on the rise.


  1. […] this new vid, made by Evan Roth, one of the originals from Graffiti Research Lab. And, uh, anyone else think Jay cribbed that voice-buckle from Wayne? – link from […]