Instagram is only the
latest platform in a complex media history that has shaped graffiti and street art, dating back at least to Brassai’s photographs of Parisian street graffiti in the 1930s.
MacDowall & De Souza, 2015
This research considers the relationship between street art, graffiti and digital technologies, in particular the ways in which the production and consumption of forms of street art and graffiti are increasingly shaped by the architecture and uses of the digital platforms such as Instagram. Even as digital technologies challenge the previously primary experience of street art – a direct encounter of an artwork made or found in a specific urban site – they also dramatically expand the audiences and exchanges of street art and graffiti.
In an earlier essay titled 'The Graffiti Archive and the Digital City' (2008) I argued thatforms of new media adapt graffiti as both content and concept, as a stylistic device and a model of spatialised information network. This essay also considered how new technology impacted law enforcement and the graffiti cleaning industry, as well as graffiti writers.
More recently, this strand of the research has examined how Instagram shapes graffiti writing and street art and how this transformation of an urban practice into data may aid cultural research, including audience research.