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Graffiti Archeology

On the award-winning Graffiti Archaeology website, visitors can visualize the evolution of graffiti art using a custom interface.

In the words of Cassidy Curtis, one of the Graffiti Archaeology project’s designers, “Graffiti is the chameleon skin of the urban landscape. Equal parts public art and vandalism, virtuosity and subversion, it is among the most ephemeral forms of human expression.”

The aim of the website is to create a timeline, an archaeological record, an evolutionary architecture of graffiti by repeatedly photographing the same graffiti-clad walls in various cities over a period of 10 years, in cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

Curtis does not photograph everything himself; he has collected work from photographers all over the U.S. Using the specially developed Grafarc Explorer interface, visitors to the website can view new layers of graffiti projected onto the same walls — the same “public canvases.

“Visitors can also choose to start with the most recent photos and use the software to go back in time. More than anything else, Graffiti Archaeology presents the dialogue between the artists, who place their graffiti over or next to each other’s work.

Sometimes a piece remains for years, while sometimes it disappears after just a few days — that is the nature of the medium. The site won a Webby Award in 2005.

Project details

Year of development :2005, ongoing
Created by:Cassidy Curtis

Available formats