GRL Movie: Torrent It.

Excerpts of the Graffiti Research Lab – The Complete First Season on BoingBoingTV:

This five minute excerpt has ads, but you can get the whole DVD – with no ads – as a torrentstart here.

Not sure? Here’s a well written review of the movie from Kevin Flanagan of the P2P Foundation:

My computer finished downloading the Graffiti Research Lab Movie Sunday morning. I stuck it on for a quick look and ended up watching the whole thing. The film is a testament to the cultural value of the hacker ethic and a free and open source approach in cultural production. GRL are an art group dedicated to outfitting graffiti writers, artists and protesters with open source technologies for urban communication. After quiting their ‘proper jobs’ Evan Roth and James Powderly founded The Graffiti Research Lab while working together at the Eyebeam OpenLab.

Eyebeam Mission Statement
“Eyebeam is an art and technology center that provides a fertile context and state-of-the-art tools for digital research and experimentation. It is a lively incubator of creativity and thought, where artists and technologists actively engage with culture, addressing the issues and concerns of our time. Eyebeam challenges convention, celebrates the hack, educates the next generation, encourages collaboration, freely offers its contributions to the community, and invites the public to share in a spirit of openness: open source, open content and open distribution.”

The Graffiti Research Lab approach the idea of graffiti in its widest sense. To give an example they make a really nice analogy in the film between street artists and hackers. “Hackers treat software the way street artists treat the city, they look for these systems they identify them then flip them a little bit to tell something that the city didn’t intend to tell”. Disrupting the flows of everyday life through creative and playful intervention, without seeeking permission.

In the spirit of openess the GRL publish the instructions and source code for their projects on the GRL website. The site lists many projects, some of the better known being ‘Throwies’ and ‘Laser Tagging’.
GRL invented ‘throwies’ a simple combination of an l.e.d with a battery and a magnet, colourful little lights that can be thrown in large amounts onto metal surfaces in public spaces, they can also be used to make images or text.
Make throwies not runways
GRL also developed the amazing laser tagging system which allows for street artists to write or draw straight over the entire surface of a large building using a laser and a projector.
Laser Tagging
Publishing, sharing the know how to these projects online, putting it in peoples hands the projects and ideas take on and evolve a life of their own. This is one of the greatest things about the free and open source approach. However there is a flip side to this, which has been discussed on this blog before, that is the problem of the appropriation of commons based production by commercial interest. In the movie GRL discuss how big business has appropriated their projects for advertising and commercial purposes. Marketing strategists deperately looking for novel and fashoinable trends to associate their products with, paid to tune into whats happening on the ’street’ twist what begin as antagonisitc counter cultural strategies to serve commercial interests. As soon as anything goes public it becomes vulnerable to appropriation and exploitation. Its perfectly legal for corporations to take innovations from the commons and alter it to suit their interests, but the opposite is true for the public for whom remixing innovation from the IP regulated domain of the corporations is illegal. This is not a two way conversation. Public space is contested space which in actuality is not public at all, but commercial space regulated on behalf of commercial interests. This needs to be challenged. GRL responds to this with further counter strategies and have declared a war for open urban space, on the logic that if street art and graffiti are illegal then advertising which appropriates the aesthetics of these art forms should be made illegal too.

Creative subversion of the status quo and the magical transformation of the everyday must go on.

To download the film and find out more about the GRL check out

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