The Null Device

To catch a tagger

Authorities in California are testing a new high-tech solution for catching graffitiists: a network of sensors which detect the sound of aerosol cans and notify police, giving GPS coordinates. A worthy application of space-age technology to tackling contemporary urban blight, or a racist/classist attack on hip-hop culture/people's art, aimed at depriving urban minorities of non-corporate means of communications? Discuss. (via NWD)

There are 16 comments on "To catch a tagger":

Posted by: kvaternion Wed Feb 19 23:55:17 2003

It may discourage casual painters, but the pros will find a way to circumvent it, which might even be a good thing, because they have a sense of honour and aestethics and will most likely only target ugly, public structures. Still a 100 feet range? Sounds like it will be guarding very expensive neighbourhoods at best.

Posted by: acb Thu Feb 20 02:02:27 2003

Or maybe it will prompt a return to the old days of painting graffiti with paintbrushes? (One still sees some really old slogans painted on walls in this fashion around here. I suppose you could pass off a revival of this method as post-ironic retro or something too.)

Posted by: kvaternion Thu Feb 20 07:58:34 2003

Even though there are obvious appeals to actually painting your graffiti, I think that speed is still a rather important factor for most. Stickerbombing anyone?

Posted by: acb Thu Feb 20 08:29:59 2003

Or even stencilling. (see also: )

If you're going for the old-skool hip-hop look, aerosol is the go. Though crisp Adobe Illustrator-generated stencils are becoming more common. Then again, a lot of that has been appropriated by "guerilla" ad agencies and T-shirt fashion labels. These days, it's hard to tell what's culture-jamming agitprop, what's a logo campaign for a new energy drink or car, and what's connected with some dance-music night.

Posted by: okiba Thu Feb 20 10:46:39 2003

This technology may prove a deterrent for a short time, but I suspect it will have the same effect that any "zero-tolerance" policy has had on graffiti.

Posted by: acb Thu Feb 20 11:37:54 2003

I.e., raise the stakes and make it into a more prestigious extreme sport?

Did you hear about the armed graffiti gangs in Spain who hold up trains, spraypaint them, and then send in photos to underground webzines, all for the prestige?

Posted by: Graham Thu Feb 20 11:37:55 2003

The printing of millions of stickers with the word "TOY" written on them, sticking those anywhere bad graffiti is found. That might work. Yeaaaah...

Posted by: acb Thu Feb 20 12:00:32 2003

Or it might get the crap beaten out of you.

Posted by: Graham Thu Feb 20 12:03:26 2003

Most graffitists are weedy little fuckers, though.

Posted by: acb Thu Feb 20 12:34:37 2003

Yes, but they move in groups, and listen to a lot of gangsta rap about "bustin' caps" of people who don't give you "respect".

Posted by: Graham Thu Feb 20 13:26:46 2003

They'll respect me with my cricket bat.

Posted by: acb Thu Feb 20 23:34:42 2003

You've got a thing about cricket bats lately.

Posted by: mark Fri Feb 21 01:33:53 2003

Graham, what effect would "TOY" stickers have?

Posted by: Claire Sat Feb 22 17:10:11 2003

As we all know (<>), terrorists will use spray cans to distribute biological agents. Maybe they got some Federal funding for this project....

Posted by: Graham Sun Feb 23 05:02:39 2003

Simple. Graffitists don't like being labelled "toys".

Posted by: Schmicko Micko http:// Wed Feb 26 11:21:37 2003

Big black drippy ugly lines from re-filled liquid boot polish bottles.

Mini sponge paint rollers plus stencils = silent and stylish + cheaper and option of mixing your own paints. Glass etch anyone?

Want to say something? Do so here.

Post pseudonymously

Display name:
To prove that you are not a bot, please enter the text in the image into the field below it.

Your Comment:

Please keep comments on topic and to the point. Inappropriate comments may be deleted.

Note that markup is stripped from comments; URLs will be automatically converted into links.