Blink and You Will Miss These Urban Memes

Street art can be elegant, enigmatic, or just plain goofy. In a new addition to our series of posts on how the built environment can be transformed through new forms of “rebel” or street sports, games, and art work, here are a few new “memes” worth mulling over. Perhaps the urban form of flash-in-the pan Internet memes, which last often just long enough to catch on and then disappear, these new temporary works are often in place long enough just to make you smile or reconsider a space before they are consumed by an ever-shifting urban environment. Some are created by groups of random people working towards the same end while others are the work of professional artists who inspire others to create their own memes. We are already most likely behind on these wild urban happenings, but here are a few unique ones that caught our eye:

Eye-bombing: As the Web site home of this funny trend explains, googly eyes “humanize the world.” Cheap and easy to apply, they also also come off fast, unlike graffiti, which can be a nightmare to remove. Core 77, a design blog, writes that Kim Nielsen and Peter Dam coined the term: “Eye-bombing is the act of setting googly eyes on inanimate things in the public space. Ultimately the goal is to humanize the streets, and bring sunshine to people passing by.” Traditional graffitti and vandalism are viewed as “egocentric behavior to [get respect],” while eye-bombing is “only about the message itself:” humor.

Core 77
has more interesting thoughts about the difference between craftier forms of “bombing” the built environment, like Yarn Bombing, and eye-bombing. “Where Yarn Bombing, a similarly absurd variant of street art, is characterized by tactility and a sort of Oldenburgian scale that ultimately comes across as rather abstract, Eyebombing is altogether Tweet-like in brevity (suffice it to say that Tumblr is the proper venue for the movement). The fact that it’s frivolous and disposable is precisely the point…” We just think these eyes make even the ugliest infrastructure cuddly.

Geodes: This is Colossal, a design blog, tells us about A Common Name, an anonymous graphic designer and artist, who started a beautiful public art project in Los Angeles, adding man-made geodesic forms to the most unlikely spots in typical urban scenes. 

She explains: “Rather than using traditional paint or wheat paste methods in a 2D platform, I’ve been using paper in 3D. These sculptures come in all sizes and fit in the holes of buildings and pipes found while walking around. The finished shapes represent geodes, crystal, quartz, or any mineral formation that you would normally find in nature, now in our planned out cities.”

The artist sees these are small “treasures,” in part because they are randomly stumbled upon. “I enjoy the fact that many people will not notice these, but some astute people will; that these will not last forever and the weather will affect them as naturally as it might in nature.”

Moss Graffiti: Inspired by the work of artist Anna Garforth, who uses living plants to make art and has been creating temporary installation in London side-streets, design site Apartment Therapy has pushed the idea of simply doing it yourself, in an effort to spread the use of “moss grafitti.”

While Garforth inserts her work in abandoned spaces in Grow, Apartment Therapy wants these everywhere and public, a meme if you will: “All you need is moss, sugar, buttermilk, water, a container, a paint brush, a blender, a great idea and you’re off. Pick your favorite word, quote or create a fabulous stencil or drawing and get painting.” (We’re not sure it’s all that easy).

Lastly, a Belgian artist is also playing with bringing non-conventional green forms to walls, but in this case, by taking things away using a pressurized water spray.

Image credits: (1-4) Eye-bombing, (5-8) A Common Name, (9-11) Anna Garforth, (12) This is Colossal

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