an exploration of urban identity in the middle of Texas
TEOA asked Andrew Takano, a video artist, to comment on the relationship between the morphing character of Austin’s graffiti and the city itself as reflected in a recent time-lapse video project, seen below.
I’m not really sure that the paintings at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery are analogous to the change that occurs in Austin. The rapid turnover of artwork there is continuous, but not really building toward any one thing. It’s just meant to be a space that’s always available for temporary display of art by certain artists. Contrary to what most people think, the “park” is NOT a public space, and the artists that paint there are required by the property owner to have an appropriate pass to work there. I’ve been told that people are arrested several times a week for unauthorized painting/vandalism of artwork out there.
Most of the turnover is actually driven by those taggers that come through and vandalize the park almost every night (and sometimes in broad daylight). If an artist shows up and someone else’s work has been vandalized, they’ll often buff it out and paint their own piece over it. I find that aspect of the graffiti culture interesting because, if the tagging ceased, artists would lose a major justification for buffing out one piece over another when they want to paint something new.
For me, timelapsing the graffiti artists is something I enjoy primarily because they make interesting subjects. The very fact that the artwork they’re creating may only last several hours or days before being vandalized is another bonus — what I capture will never be captured by someone else in that form again. When I watch these artists out there every day eliminating the old works to make way for new things, I see it in many ways as a parallel to my own life. The title, “Start Fresh: Never Give Up,” is a reference to my philosophy about life. One should never be satisfied with who they are or what they have accomplished. I think it’s necessary to always be working on oneself, and constantly trying new things. Don’t let yourself be paralyzed by a fear of change. It’s only too late to change yourself if you choose that to be so. If you don’t like your career, go do something else. If you’re bored with your hobbies, find some new ones. Try new foods, visit new places, search out new experiences, meet new people. Life is short, and the older you get, the shorter you realize life actually is (this is a certainty), so make the most of the years you have.
An Austin resident for 9 years, Andrew Takano is an aerospace engineering graduate student at the University of Texas. While he spends his days teaching and researching, his off time is wholly dedicated to pursuing his passion for photography and cinematography. More of his work can be found here.