5 Pointz has been featured in a variety of different mediums, from graffiti documentaries and movies, its become a visual landmark for Queens.  In a recent film, Now You See Me, about four magicians who pull off a series of elaborate magic tricks in an over the top revenge plan, 5 Pointz is the stage and backdrop for one of their shows.  The magicians who are named appropriately, “the four horsemen” are covering different major cities in the country, and for their New York City show they create an elaborate set up on top of the 5 Pointz building.  The New York show is their ultimate finale, and thus is meant to be the most elaborate of all featured in the movie.  Although the building scene is short, the movie uses 5 Pointz in a way that is depicted nowhere else.  The building has held events, but the use of its rooftop as a massive venue for thousands was a new concept.  The scene depicts a massive crowd swarmed around the building, and traffic congesting Long Island City for blocks.  The camera sweeps down from a bird eye view of the masses into a contained crowd in the back alley of 5 Pointz all surrounded by various police vehicles.  The adjacent seven train roars by in the background as the camera pans back up towards the roof to reveal 5 Pointz bathed in pixelated holographic light.  All the original permanent pieces are there, the big bubble lettered 5 Pointz logo in the shadow of the bright sweeping light.  The camera zooms out again to show the entire building bathed in the holographic projections and spotlights from overhead helicopters.

 As the lights wave over the surface of the building they come together to form each of the three remaining magicians.  In a holographic illusion, the pixels peels away to reveal a giant receded room with Jesse Eisenberg’s character Daniel Atlas standing in the middle.  The character announces to the audience “What is Magic? Magic is deception, designed to delight, entertain, and inspire. It is about belief, faith-” the holograph travels over the building to depict Isla Fisher as Henley Reeves continuing the speech, “-trust”, and the speech goes on to Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney, and continues to switch between the three holograms on different sides of the building.  “Without those qualities magic as an art form would no longer exist, but what happens when these qualities are not used for their higher purpose, and instead they’re used to cheat, lie, for personal gain, or for greed.  Well then its no longer magic, its crime.”  This speech seems to serve a dual purpose when given on top of one of the greatest monuments to graffiti history.  The whole question of art vs. crime is at the very core of most arguments on street art, and 5 Pointz stands as a representational argument for street art.  As a legal commissioned graffiti building, it does not incorporate the same criminal controversy that comes with most graffiti.  In Now You See Me, the central theme is also that of art (magic) versus crime, so likely the setting of this speech and final trick is meant to have symbolic meaning. 

fuckinyellowsharks:

            The visual spread of 5 Pointz is a unique one, because as a multi-dimensional art space, seeing everything at once is impossible.  Every part of the building is integrated with another part, and the separate pieces are melded into each other.  There is no one iconic image of 5 pointz, because it is an ever-changing space.  One month it could suddenly have 12 different artists featured, and then as it is now it could be whitewashed and have nothing at all.  Looking at multiple images of 5 Pointz at different times though there are some consistencies.  First of all the location of works is generally consistent, portions of the building are sectioned out for individual pieces, like paintings hung in a gallery.  
The difference between 5 Pointz and a traditional gallery is that not only are the lines between artworks blurred, but also the viewer and medium relationship is drastically different.  Part of what many feel is the appeal of street art is how personable it is, its access is not restricted by museum admission fees, nor is your direct physical contact with it restricted.  Whereas in an artistic institution like the Metropolitan Museum of Art of the Museum of Modern Art, both New York stapes of the art world, the art can only be experienced from a distance, security guards and sensors stand between you and an unlimited interaction with the art piece.  
            Furthermore the viewer experience reaches another level of involvement in the structure of 5 Pointz.  The main area of the building is a back alley inlet that will literally surround you with the art on the walls.  This is the view that is most popularly depicted in photographs of the site, because it provides the most inclusive view of the building.    Visitors of the iconic graffiti mecca can stand in front of massive murals and physically feel the bumps of paint and the textures of spray paint on the wall, which seems like an insignificant act, but mean access to another dimension of discovery for avid art enthusiasts and artists alike.  Instead of reading a plaque on a wall explaining the title of the piece, the artist, and the medium, a visitor can discover the process on their own.
To explain this further let me give a preliminary explanation of the different possible mediums in street art.  An artist can use wheat paste, a mixture of glue and water to plaster a pre-constructed image on paper and then post it up in any manner they wish.  Another big distinction in mural painting or street art is between regular acrylic paints, wall paints, and spray paint.  The distinction between these is especially important to the evaluation of the complexity of the piece, because fine lines done with a paintbrush with acrylic paint is a completely different display of skill than if the lines were constructed with spray paint via the use of stencils or fine stroke work.  Lastly street art can take on a sculpture form, and recently a method of sculpture graffiti called yarn bombing has gained popularity.   As a center for art and street art, often a visit to 5 Pointz may include a sighting of colored yarn wrapped around objects: street lamps, stop signs, or a trash can.  
Regardless of its constantly morphing appearance, 5 Pointz actually did have permanent installations on its walls, featuring the most iconic pieces in its history.  The most notable of which was a portrait of rapper and renowned Brooklyn hip-hop musician Notorious B.I.G., which was painted by New Zealand artist OD in the early time of 5 Pointz.  The changing landscape of 5 Pointz, makes photographical documentation of it a complicated matter.  The website for 5 Pointz includes a photo gallery of nearly all the pieces that have made an appearance at the site.  Other than this, as a popular tourist destination, 5 Pointz has likely been captured at virtually every possible time at every angle. 

fuckinyellowsharks:

            The visual spread of 5 Pointz is a unique one, because as a multi-dimensional art space, seeing everything at once is impossible.  Every part of the building is integrated with another part, and the separate pieces are melded into each other.  There is no one iconic image of 5 pointz, because it is an ever-changing space.  One month it could suddenly have 12 different artists featured, and then as it is now it could be whitewashed and have nothing at all.  Looking at multiple images of 5 Pointz at different times though there are some consistencies.  First of all the location of works is generally consistent, portions of the building are sectioned out for individual pieces, like paintings hung in a gallery. 

The difference between 5 Pointz and a traditional gallery is that not only are the lines between artworks blurred, but also the viewer and medium relationship is drastically different.  Part of what many feel is the appeal of street art is how personable it is, its access is not restricted by museum admission fees, nor is your direct physical contact with it restricted.  Whereas in an artistic institution like the Metropolitan Museum of Art of the Museum of Modern Art, both New York stapes of the art world, the art can only be experienced from a distance, security guards and sensors stand between you and an unlimited interaction with the art piece. 

            Furthermore the viewer experience reaches another level of involvement in the structure of 5 Pointz.  The main area of the building is a back alley inlet that will literally surround you with the art on the walls.  This is the view that is most popularly depicted in photographs of the site, because it provides the most inclusive view of the building.    Visitors of the iconic graffiti mecca can stand in front of massive murals and physically feel the bumps of paint and the textures of spray paint on the wall, which seems like an insignificant act, but mean access to another dimension of discovery for avid art enthusiasts and artists alike.  Instead of reading a plaque on a wall explaining the title of the piece, the artist, and the medium, a visitor can discover the process on their own.

To explain this further let me give a preliminary explanation of the different possible mediums in street art.  An artist can use wheat paste, a mixture of glue and water to plaster a pre-constructed image on paper and then post it up in any manner they wish.  Another big distinction in mural painting or street art is between regular acrylic paints, wall paints, and spray paint.  The distinction between these is especially important to the evaluation of the complexity of the piece, because fine lines done with a paintbrush with acrylic paint is a completely different display of skill than if the lines were constructed with spray paint via the use of stencils or fine stroke work.  Lastly street art can take on a sculpture form, and recently a method of sculpture graffiti called yarn bombing has gained popularity.   As a center for art and street art, often a visit to 5 Pointz may include a sighting of colored yarn wrapped around objects: street lamps, stop signs, or a trash can. 

Regardless of its constantly morphing appearance, 5 Pointz actually did have permanent installations on its walls, featuring the most iconic pieces in its history.  The most notable of which was a portrait of rapper and renowned Brooklyn hip-hop musician Notorious B.I.G., which was painted by New Zealand artist OD in the early time of 5 Pointz.  The changing landscape of 5 Pointz, makes photographical documentation of it a complicated matter.  The website for 5 Pointz includes a photo gallery of nearly all the pieces that have made an appearance at the site.  Other than this, as a popular tourist destination, 5 Pointz has likely been captured at virtually every possible time at every angle. 

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The area of Long Island City has over gone many changes over the past few decades. At one point the area was riddled with crime and poverty, but quickly as upper and middle class started to spill over into the boroughs outside of Manhattan, Long Island City was quickly gentrified. The area became…

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The working class woman in New York City at the turn of the century created a whole new breed of independent minded females. Betty Lou Spence of the 1927 silent film It, is the epitome of such a woman: she is head strong, independent, and witty. The charming department store girl, played by Clara…

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5 Pointz: Media History of NYC

            Graffiti culture was born and cultivated in New York City, but it expanded rapidly around the world in a craze of risk and art.  The modern art community has slowly come to accept graffiti and street art as an admired and respected form of artistic expression, albeit still very controversial.  The graffiti culture was born in Philadelphia and through the 60s and 70s shifted into New York City where it gained popularity in Washington Heights and northern Harlem.  Over the next two decades through the 70s and 80s, graffiti spread rapidly from northern Manhattan down through the subways, Queens, Brooklyn, and eventually up through all five boroughs.  Today, although the streets and subways have been cleaned up considerably from the graffiti covered walls and carts they once were, graffiti has formulated a new style of illustration and visual expression.  Once laws became stricter, and the moral questions of graffiti as a practiced form of art came about, it seemed necessary to make moves to recognize it as a legitimate art form that was begging for a place of expression.  If the goals of graffiti are to paint, to be seen, and to tag on a large scale, all of this could still be achieved by legal means if only someone could provide a space for it.

            5 Pointz was the fulfillment of such a problem, it provided a legitimate space for displaying fantastic works of street art, without the confines of a gallery.  The name 5 Pointz is meant to denote the coming together of all five boroughs (Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn).  The official website describes this as an underestimate of the impact the building would have on the graffiti community, since artists would travel from all over the world to contribute their art to the building.  Before it was 5 Pointz, the Queens graffiti mecca began as The Phun Phactory.  The Phun Phactory actually had roots in the effort abolish graffiti rather than to preserve it, and stemmed from a company called Graffiti Terminators.  Pat Dilillo was the owner of Graffiti Terminators, and after consistently whitewashing pieces of works all over the city, he became enamored by the works he was paid to cover.  Realizing a root in this problem, Dilillo began to sympathize with the talented youth who needed an outlet for their art.  In this realization Dilillo transformed his white washing company into a center for the embracing of graffiti art in its legal form.  The headquarters of Graffiti Terminators was transformed into The Phun Phactory, a place for talented artists to display their art on the sides of the building.  The result of this venture was a building boasting the greatest graffiti talent New York City had to offer at the time.  The Phun Phactory was discontinued in 2002, but was picked up by Meres One, a passionate graffiti artist that wanted to extend Dilillo’s vision further.  Meres’ goal was to eventually build a whole community behind his renamed project 5 Pointz.  His goals even included plans to build a school, which would teach aerosol art, art history, and entrepreneurship to aspiring artists.

            None of these plans were fulfilled though, because unfortunately last November the building’s masterpieces were white washed and painted over.  5 Pointz had been in a long battle to preserve what many believed to be priceless pieces of historical relevant art.  Developers were pushing for the building to be torn down to make room for large apartment complexes, which would gather revenue in the rising market of Long Island City.  The building took up a large area of potentially profitable space and even rented studio space within its walls for ridiculously low prices.  Many petitions were created to save the landmark, but unfortunately 5 Pointz lost the case and will be replaced by a 400 million dollar apartment complex.  The sentiments about the historical space were not lost on the owners of the property though, and the resulting complexes will include two stories of walls dedicated to graffiti works.

  • "LOCAL STOP 7 LONG ISLAND CITY." New York Times (1923-Current file): 1. Apr 25 2010. ProQuest. Web. 21 Feb. 2014 .
  • Marc Ferris Marc Ferris is,a freelance writer. “Graffiti is a Welcome Sight here / Meres’ 5 Pointz Outdoor Gallery Will Showcase the Art, Artists that Others often Shun.” Newsday, Combined editions ed.: 0. Dec 02 2002. ProQuest. Web. 21 Feb. 201
  • Algar, Selim. “Banksy Loss on ‘Pointz’ Art Bldg. to be Razed.” New York Post: 3. Nov 09 2013. ProQuest. Web. 21 Feb. 2014 .
  • "ABOUT | 5 POINTZ." 5 POINTZ. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2014. <http://5ptz.com/about/>.

New York Identity: Media History of NYC

Having been founded as a colony based on mercantilism and trade, New Amsterdam developed without the strong cultural background its nearby colonies like Boston or Philadelphia did.  There was no common religious purpose to tie the colony of New Amsterdam together, only their Dutch heritage, which in itself was a bit of a melting pot as well.  The Netherlands served as a frontier center for all rebellion against oppression from the Spanish monarchy, and hence had a driven political purpose in itself, but such sentiment did not necessarily carry over the Atlantic.  As New York developed and was taken by the British, its culture still had no mold or specific direction to it, the colony economically had direction as a prime location for trade, but culturally it was left to its own devices.  These devices turned out to be fairly negative, as it was a company town the culture tended towards drinking, lewdness, and prostitution.  Although overtime New York undoubtedly must have developed some sort of cultural identity for itself, it seems as though our records of it are somewhat vague and there was nothing outstanding to distinguish what was explicitly “New York”.  With the publication of The History of New York by Washington Irving in 1809, New York City was gifted an identity perfectly packaged.  The History created a cultural identity for New Yorkers in a way that may have been a complete lie and based on inaccurate or silly stories relation to the city’s Dutch history, but nevertheless it was a history to identify with as a community.  A communal connection to culture is necessary for its creation, and New York City did not seem to have enough of a common understanding of their culture as exemplified by Elizabeth Bradley’s first chapter of Knickerbocker: The Myth Behind New York.  Bradley describes the dinner of the New York Historical Society at which there are differing opinions on how much progress the society has actually achieved and proving the point that New York’s history was at a sort of stand still.  Knickerbocker as a character tied together different attributes that I believe coincidentally worked perfectly with the already developing characteristics of such an urban and trade centered city.  The necessary qualities of citizens in such a large and bustling center would likely be hard work ethic, and pride.  The character of Knickerbocker with his history of lies gave these qualities historical justification for New Yorkers and drove them further foster this cultural identity for themselves with his inspiration.  The authenticity of the text is almost irrelevant here the same way the Walum Olum’s significance culturally at the time was not necessarily based on its authenticity.  The effect it had on people at the time was the real significance of the text, Knickerbocker, fake or not, served a purpose for New Yorkers in telling them firmly what a New Yorker truly was, its likely they knew already, but there was no one authoritative figure to tell them so.  An important point I think this proves about our nature is that we feel the need to base our cultural identity’s in something historical and when it comes to identity we always ultimately look back in order to look forward.

Devin

We went on a visit to Highgate Cemetery for Gothic Literature with Clive Bloom and it was beautiful, it was pouring rain the entire time, but no better atmosphere to experience the truly Gothic!  I got soaked and was freezing by the time the two hour tour was over, but it was so worth it, truly a British must see.  We saw the graves of George Eliot, Malcolm McLaren, Karl Marx, and others.  

I went to the International Flair Competition at Roadhouse in Covent Garden, which is a place well known for its flaiiring.  My coworker was competing in the competition as one of only two girls in the competition, she lost but it was still exciting.  Expensive endeavor but regardless it was fun and I met a lot of bartenders from around the world.

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NYU Sophomore in London for Fall 2013