Importance of Medium Used in Graffiti and Street Art

Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase the “medium is the message,” meaning that there is more meaning in how a message is conveyed, than there is in the message itself, that is being sent. He has great insight as to how art would become intermingled with the human environment. Graffiti and Street art are both great examples of how art has moved away from being displayed in galleries and into the form of art being viewed by the public in a public setting. Although graffiti and street art may have messages that are different, the way in which they are being displayed speaks volumes about both art movements.

“Graffiti art gets its rare power not only from its confrontational stance towards virtually any viewer who respects the “fourth wall” of the public stage that graffiti writers willfully disassemble, but from its occupancy of a peripheral position with respect to the society it criticizes. This space is open to any visual artist who chooses to present their work in public, without permission, in a way that engages the work with its surroundings, and the two groups are beginning to borrow heavily from each other. Graffiti artists are exploring the fertile ground of targeted messages with immediate and iconic impact, and visual artists are taking to the streets to communicate with the public beyond the sanctioned space of the gallery walls. This social frame of protest allows artists to produce works that express strong aesthetic values without fearing that their works’ aesthetics will be divorced from their underlying message. Their presence in our common, cluttered world rather than the blank slate of an art gallery repudiates our inclination to segregate aesthetics from the world it distills” (McNichols).


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