Home > graffiti writing > GRAFFITI/”WRITING”: AN “OBTRUSIVE” ART


April 25th, 2007

Dalla pagina http://people.freenet.de/graffitiforschung.de/OBTRU.htm



Published for the Hip-Hop Project of "Forum Kultur" at Poznan and Opalenica,October 2003

C:Copyright by.A.THIEL (2003)

URL of these pages:


IN MEMORIAM ET HONOREM OF:Erik ROTHEIM (Norway) and Edward H.SEYMOUR (US) that triggered "creative avalanches" by their invention and adaption of spraycans.

Special thanks to Bernard ZOLYNAK for the invitation.


Since 30 years we can track the developement and growth of a GLOBAL HIP-HOP,creating chances to come to know each other and meet,in order to mutually discuss today`s state of being,future chances,so to say a summing up of psycho-social state of the arts,the analysis of the environment and possible psycho-toxic influences threatening mankind with extinction.That young people dare to express themselves causes much irritation and despite all repressive tries (so far) the only outcome has been the creation of a sector of "graffiti-as-business" already selling an annual $ 50 billion,with rising tendency since 30 years despite all threats "to definitely put an end to the visual vandalism" up to statements calling graffiti "visual terrorism" and the rest of psychological warfare against "writers" globally.Please also note US "billion" equals European "Milliarde".


Wort with Latin origin="obtrudere",meaning forcing you and your activities onto someone,gaining and desiring other person`s attention,acceptance by various means also against other persons desire.


All arts work by "obtrusion" via all of your senses (remember I said we have much more than 5……...) once you come within the very art`s reach,realm of influence,you may be moved,maybe even without your notice influencing also our unconscious.


Art that works as obtrusion uses specific techniques.Many of them never are being reflected by us,like architecture and town-planning.The way a house is being built-size,material etc.- and the outlines of a community OBTRUDE on you even if you never think about the forms being used here.If you ever have been in a palace or a governmental building,in most cases sheer size and the masses of material being aimed at creating a feeling of inferiority,intimitating people.The "German Fuehrer`s" headquarters at Berlin were of such planning,you had to walk miles before even coming closer to him.But all that because already being integral part of cultures is seldom considered as OBTRUSION,it is the "newcomers" in the art-sector (also because the old parts do not want to share power and influence) that must use lots of energy,spectacular Activities and aggressive techniques to also become an attractor,eyecatcher and being taken notice of.


Having explained at various parts that graffiti always also developed along the axis of technical innovations,meaning new Signing,writing techniques and tools also permitted the re-invention of graffiti various ways and permit a cultural adaption,last developemental step here was the use of the (1926 by Erik Rotheim,Norway) invented SPRAYCAN,that in 1949 was adopted in the US (Edward H.Seymour) staring with aluminum-color,triggering a "color-revolution" that,around 1965 caused the "explosion of graffiti" in urban slum and ghetto areas known now as "WRITING (AMERICAN STYLE)" along with several other SOCIAL INVENTIONS RAP and BREAKDANCE fusing new (now already global) youth culture known as HIP-HOP.Young people (writing is a male way of expression,99%) such as therefore take their liberties and use already existing walls as their roaming spaces and playgrounds get scarcer all the time,offering them little other real challenges."WRITING" today has-globally-become the accepted SYMBOLIC AGGRESSIVE (color,form,outline and content) technique within known TRANSITIONAL RITES during COMING OF AGE,where young people in all countries and cultures have to undergo specific exams,transgression of some rules included and also expected to finally gain manhood and become accepted adults.

This very much conflicts with the also existing negative developemental trends to keep people in a permanent and perpetual state of "petrified adolescence",the creation of a ongoing state of needs feeding the global capitalist system anabling the sale of also goods not really helpful and necessary,the many gadgets of a "surplus-production" bent on the creation of er-satz-needs of all kinds permanently promising something wonderful never fulfilling the promise causing a "thirst" that never can and will be quenched.Now young people normally being very much aware what is being done to them "smell that rat" and start counter-measures expressing discontent via writing,rap and breakdance.


One of the most cited statements:"Only graffiti done by permission can be considered art" sounds very "natural" but if you take a short pause and think about it you also may come to notice that IF that would be true art only created by permission MOST art would never have been created at all.It would miss the slightly chaotic aspect of art being a little rebellious and coming into existance also as a counter-reaction to "normality" if that "normality" becomes "dead",boring and/or even psycho-toxic like we know from dictatorships and police-states.Then we have a "Social Realism" where pictures and statues done during 3.Reich and those from Russia under Stalin`s rule look so much alike.This means arts without liberties Decay into lick-spittling and propaganda.This means now we already may know arts always have to RE-INVENT and RE-CREATE themselves,adopting and adjusting to chances in societies still being able to indicate the "hot-spots" of their Times.Modern graffiti,known as "writing" is one of the artistic answeres to actual problems of our environment.No wonder They cause so much controversies and resistance from any by the "establishement".


Central question being HOW COME an international cohort of young males being so dedicated on OBTRUDING reflecting psycho-social goings on of and in modern,complex societies.a society,and the answer is we see via graffiti/writing a MIRRORING PROCESSNONE ASKS persons being MARGINALISED,so no wonder such persons (and others from other societal background=classes being afraid to face comparable "futures") do what they do WITHOUT ASKING (permission),doing to rest of society what they experienced before.A tiny international cohort manipulating the  GLOBALIZATION selects millions of persons meaning throwing them onto the "unemployment piles".This input invites a feedback,and now surfacing on outer walls,those manipulating "reality" start complaining.


If you feel you`re being marginalized,your behavior may become obtrusive,or even must.We should not forget where "writing" originated in the ghettos and slums of urban spaces of US megacities,where a "silenced mayority" being psycho-socially already aborted.must survive.We also should keep in mind some of first "writers" statements understanding their desperate situation:"IF we want to become 20 and survive,where guns are cheap and easy to get,we must create a competitive system,where only personal ability counts,and exchange weapons for art!"

Or,as one German "writer" From Munich later said:

"I want to give something back,and feel as a servant to society".

That much to the accusations writers would be "visual terrorists" and "vandals".

We watch in all modern,complex societies a growth of persons without jobs/work,and at same time also a lessening of free roaming spaces for young persons and children,a lack in playgrounds where next generation may be among themselves by a process to sell all available public space and thus turn it into PRIVATE PROPERTY.None seems to care Where children now may play……This aspect of an experienced reality of an INIMICAL ENVIRONMENT shows an aspect of a process of PSYCHO-SOCIAL ABORTION seldom discussed about,and contains a dangerous aspect,the PSYCHO-TOXICITY of these MARGINALIZING processes.To be made an "UN-PERSON" can be deadly like We already know that UNEMPLOYMENT also kills-in the long run-via realizing that you are NOT NEEDED/WANTED ANY MORE.No human being can live this way……


ANONYMUS:"Hip-Hop Lexikon",AT:

http://www.beepworld.de/members4/godfather151984/index.htm 2003

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http://www.djingis.se/memb/ovre/aerosolart/aerosolart 2003

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http://www.london.gov.uk/aproot/assembly/index.jsp 2003

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THIEL,A.:"Einfuehrung in die Grafitti-Forschung/introduction to graffiti-research",Kassel 1977 ff (34 parts),CONTENT OVERVIEW",AT:

http://users.aol.com/archive1 1995


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THIEL,A.:"London Asssembly;graffiti in London,a critique",AT:

http://people.freenet.de/graffitiforschung.de/london.htm 2002

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http://people.freenet.de/graffitiforschung.de/KEYwd.htm 2003

VAN TREECK,B.:"Das Grosse Graffiti-Lexikon",Berlin 2001,ISBN 3-89602-292-X



You may contact me anytime:

Axel THIEL Dipl.Supervisor,Dipl.Sozialpaedagoge

Bluecherstr.5 Intl.work-group on graffiti-research

D-34123 KASSEL ARCHIVE1@aol.com


Tel:0561-55642 Cellular phone:0177-5083847


BIBLIOGRAPHY(4.): 32 000 entries

STUDENTS may use KASSEL GRAFFITI-ARCHIVE for FREE,but must donate a copy of their exam-products to Archive to help next students.So far 2 000 contacted me (and another 8000 persons and institutions) during 28 years.Make an appointment before you come to be shure I am present.

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  1. horny martian
    June 22nd, 2007 at 18:53 | #1


  2. June 21st, 2007 at 23:07 | #2

    pagine piuttosto informative, piacevoli =)

  3. thx
    June 14th, 2007 at 14:24 | #3

    thank you very much!!!
    see you

  4. June 13th, 2007 at 23:48 | #4

    Du musst ein Fachmann sein – wirklich guter Aufstellungsort, den du hast!

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