Interview With Veteran Graffiti Artist and Stylewriter Q.BaL40:

Graff of the Math

dirt dishevelment dispensation with hallowed graff artist, atavist & cryptonaught Q.baL40 on tha ol’ Cajuuuuuuuuuun griiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiill:

Q1:

Aloha! Who are you? Where’s it all coming from? What is the meaning of this? Wizzut gizzos izzoneth???

Q.BaL40 pronounced “cue ball forty”. I am a namewriter in the NewYork tradition, where it all started. Those are the roots. If people watch Stylewars 1982 they’ll get it. That’s where its coming from. Obviously documentaries have limits, but this is a big classic. Even if you don’t do graff, or like it, watch it for historical reasons. I never lived in New York, but graff is universal, no proof needed for that … We have our roots here in Europe from the 80s, itself based on New York. At one point, in the 90s, it veers off more and more from this old school way/mentality of drawing letters. And by the 2010s I would say graff represents society in the sense it’s technically sound, but creatively stagnating.

What is sure is everyone is doing graff for their own reasons, as for me I want to develop within this old skool format. Not just shoot in the dark, but be part of a modern relevant movement. This subculture is scientific, and unpredictable too, everything can be explained, initiation is key (“writing in new york is passed down from one generation to another” they say in Stylewars). That’s the problem with what we do, no one gets it unless someone explains it to you, but since you can’t use your phone to do that, that’s why you should watch Stylewars.

It was only shown on TV in Europe a couple times in the 80s, enough to plant seeds all over, and from there things grew to what it is now. The power of positive media. And is it really that controversial, or is it just dangerous for the system? If it was the story of legal painters doing murals for companies, it would be so Dead, but it would be on TV all the time … And it let’s you know, straight away, what society deems is good art since the 80s, and a Bad example to set. It’s not even Investigating One Bit into this movement, just saying it’s bad from the onset.

Anyway, what is a legal spot to paint if not a “free speech zone” (I guess that makes anything outside the free speech zone is no-free speech zone ?). And that’s all I do, just use free speech zones, essentially so other graff writers can see it and we can all speak this language to each other. I’m actually a retired graffiti bomber. Active stylewriter since 30 years now with no breaks – a lot of people quit a few years and start again (you slept we crept). My first piece was 93. First sketches in 91. I’ve been in a few crews. Right now it’s JFO. Just Follow the Outline which is an esoteric approach to stylewriting. I’m in GW Ghost Writers through Trafik. I salute all my old crew members from DFP from France and Greece, and the cities that influenced me the most: Berlin, Toulouse, Grenoble, New York, Athens.

Tha Gryndstone 40

Q2:

can you elaborate on the fugacity of graff? I can’t think of any other art form that essentially volunteers/standardises it’s own effacement? destruction? removal? replacement?????

it is just an accepted condition of the craft (in almost all instances)?

an integral impermanence?

as a veteran & a standard bearer of the steez, I know that you put so much expertise, effort & time into your pieces – for them to last perhaps just days?

can you expand on this “tradition” or circumstance & why or how you accept it as a normal feature of proceedings?

Yes, it is an accepted condition of the craft. But it wasn’t always. The problem is space. We’re maybe 500-1000 people who want to paint but there’s only a few spots, as I said. So we have to go over each other. Obviously people don’t want that, but what can you do. When you paint in a legal, or semi-legal spot, its accepted your work will be taken out, everyone knows that. Pieces can last a few hours up to max a week, I’d say. That’s why there’s all these photographers around.

On the tracks and the streets and the roads however, it’s a whole other story, where conventional graff rules apply. You can fuck around in the legals but if you want to go over someone in the streets, that’s straight up provocation.

Every serious writer got his photo collection. In the 90s there was a tradition of assembling your own photo albums with all your analogue photos of your work in it. Now, I’d say most people don’t organise their photos of their work. If I say, find me the piece we did in this park 5 years ago, most people are lost. Another irony of the technological age. Personally, I value my work, it’s not because it only lasts a few hours that the value drops, if anything – it goes up, since it’s a rarer photo. I’ve seen people do a piece, and take their photo, and cover it with a throw up (simple quick), so only they have it.

But what if cameras didn’t exist? Then I think graff would have more of its original meaning … It’s because of photos that we can speak this language to each other though. Artists record songs, painters have their photos … You can’t take a b-boy home with you. You can’t break a wall down and bring a piece home with you. But rap, music, has Product. Our photos don’t sell! But I treat it like I am presenting a product. Every piece is a song. Meaning the lyrics (the outline) and the beats (the colours) have to be different, or else its the same song than the last one. Which is the opposite to a stamp approach. Boom, this is my stamp, all over the place, here we go – that’s bombing. No photos required for that, at least not every single tag, that’s stupid.

Q3. Bamboozler. talk about the cryptography angle of graff. This is a stark quirk of many of the stylz-rytrz, & you take it to extremes – absolute aneurysm brain bend. Goddamn glyphs! – I often cannot decipher your scrawl until you state the word or letters despite the best of my decoding cerebrations. Why such intentional convolution? Why do you do this?

Cuz enough of us (writers) understand it, which makes it valid.

At what point does an E stop to look like an E? The more different E’s you’ve seen, the easier it becomes to read them. In terms of keys of decipherment maybe it helps to break down a letter in parts… I mean, I would say an E is a vertical bar with 3 bars going right of it spread out over its height. As long as you got that, its an E. Because if you have only 2 bars, then you have an F or a C. Some writers don’t check if their created letter can look like another one too. So if your created E has those criterias, and it doesn’t look like another letter, it can only be an E.

Now, the vertical bar, i.e. the spine, you can make that tilted, bent, shortened, lengthened, in 2 segments, in 3, 4 segments, in broken parts, in segment + curve, tight curve, wide curve, curve with one tangent, curve with two tangents, with a connection, without a connection, with a support, without a support, with shields (as we say – or chips), with stabilisers (as we say – or notches), etc … all these different switches can be done for the 3 horizontal bars too. That’s when you break down the parts, but then you need to make all those modifications work together as you look at the letter on the whole, and then how the letters act amongst themselves to make the word work as a whole.

I would say just break the word down in letters, then check each letter. After a while of seeing hundreds of pieces you get it real fast cuz it’s often the same tricks that come up.

We should speak about Dondi, for example, he never did a wildstyle (a hard to read piece) that guy, even his “wildstyle” piece for that movie ain’t Really wildstyle … Yet his style is so influential, and people don’t know about all his amazing sketches, its not so much about his subway panels … When I think wildstyle I think TkiD, Ramellzee, Kaze2 … See, it’s been around for 40 years now, people have had a chance to taste it, chew it, digest it … Wildstyles are still dope, but just not immediately the best thing anymore, in my opinion. It’s like for b-boys: “you can’t win on a headspin” at the battles. In the sense, technicality doesn’t make you better than someone else, Style will always win … Whether complex or simple, just do it right. Flow is a winner, you gotta make the letters dance, connect, say something, there’s gotta be a cool idea running through the piece somehow, some old and some new things blended well … On one side you can’t shit on the past or else you lose everyone and on another side you gotta be special … Complexity should never be an end in itself, you do that once and you see, you don’t do it again. It’s weak, and cheap, it doesn’t impress the ones in the know. There’s a good way and bad way to do complex or hard to read pieces.

Some wildstyle pieces (so you know!):

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Tkid piece new york sub 1985

kid piece hall of fame NY 1989 I think, max 91

Jayone BBC 156 Paris – here in Berlin with his typical readable wildstyles. Around 1995.

Shock outline by TkiD around 1993

E by Ramellzee NY early 80s

————————————

Some semi-wilds (so you know!):


T2Bee by Doc TC5 New York 80s

PRE Dondi

Pre outline by Dondi

Form outline by Dondi late 80s – early 90s ?
Peru outline by DOC TC5 early 90s ?

Sad by Web TC5 mid 80s

Q4:

What about codification? Are there any elements, parallels or intrigue for you concerning only being understood or communicated between individuals with specific or esoteric understanding or knowledge? Like secret messaging? Shared or passed in a classified or selective filter? Even in the open? Resistance movements, criminal fraternities & persecuted populations have frequently innovated these systems (generally lingual) over the centuries … is there any relation here or am I just heaving at empty paint tins?

Have you studied/had an interest in hieroglyphics at all? Have they been any inspiration at any stage?

& finally on this thread – are you trying to inspire people/the viewer to “think for themselves”?

A public riddle, without any immediate explanation, break-down or convenience, that encourages “out of the box” interpretation & artistic understanding/deconstruction?

There is no authority – rely on your own wits – it is the opposite of the modern market’s debased, simpleton, prescription vapidity bludgeoning via commercial sterility & coercive stupor.

Or am I scrambled on paint fumes?

Unfortunately there is no codes of the types you speak of. There’s no need for it, so it never came about.

Concerning hieroglyphics I haven’t studied them but I know my Egyptian history basics, in essence controversial. If people wanna call that early graffiti, fine. Whatever, it’s way more deep than what we do, though. I wouldn’t compare them … In Stylewars 1982 the detective defines graffiti as “the application of a medium to a surface”. That’s the definition I go by … Graffiti is everything and nothing, as long as its on the wall … I made up a name for what I do: namewriting. I haven’t seen it used before, but maybe it has been used. It’s not just about walls … I am a namewriter. And hieroglyphics makers were not namewriters. The focus was on societal life, beliefs, nature, broad concepts … we are the opposite, it’s all about me me me me.

In a way, the third question reminds me of the first. I wish that was the case … All we are, my friend, is a bunch of people that say “here I am”. Maybe we make other peoples’ eyes open up … if we do, good, but I don’t think we do … It’s not that we want to make people’s eyes open up, or have a message, all we’re saying is “Hi, I am so and so”. We’re doing that despite the odds. Plus it’s Our thing. And we don’t care about what people think. Lyrics can make you think, but we only have One word! What do you do with one word … the only thing you can do is repeat it over and over again, and then try to make it look interesting. Your question would have been perfect in the 80s and 90s when all this graff taking over had shock value, social studies were written about it, it was on TV news, people were offended, baffled, asking themselves – is there some sort of noble scheme behind this; everyone had theories on us, some romantic, some wrong, but nope … sorry guys we not that smart at the end of the day, plus we were too young, people started philosophising about property, value, beauty … See, we didn’t say shit though, just wrote names, and yet we sparked debates, we even created jobs.

Its not so much that we have a message, it’s more about the act. The act can be spoken of, but the act is not speaking per say – if that makes sense…The act in itself says (in my opinion) I continue to be a problem to You (the system), I don’t have time to explain, I’ll just leave a mark (I’m not talking about legal walls here obviously). The act mainly says to other writers: check this out how I do this, just watch, plus I did it there, whereas you only go there. What motivates writers is things about writing and bombing, the fact your name grows, and you get better. If it’s not that it’s weird to call yourself a graff writer. You could be a political activist, awareness raiser, crowd motivator, freedom fighter, placard waver, drunken sidekick, whatever, that’s great – but writers flip letters, not wake up shouts. You rarely or never find a graff writer involved on the political level and putting it out there. It brings us back to the collective vs the individual. Writers don’t belong there. They’ll do a name for you, though. They’ll write fuck the government gladly. I mean, when you do a train, and your train pulls in at the station in front of everyone, you’re telling everyone I did this cool thing here, and got away with it, that’s why I’m so good, while you guys are on your way to work for a tyrant, and after that you will vote in another psychopath. There is no stronger statement in graff ; we’re antagonising the system, beating it (and that means a lot when you’re young), and in that sense, yes we spoke, we said all that with one word, just one word – while evil people may use many words to say essentially two words: fuck you. And they don’t act on their words, we do, since the word is the act.

Q5:

Creeping commercialism. Graff is now merchant material with increasing popularity in mainstream art markets & associated pop culture.

What are your feelings on commercial contamination? How do you feel about this intrusion by opposing/antithetical/conflicting – even sworn enemy – actors & elements that are totally inharmonious & fundamentally dissonant to the original contumacy & free form?

Do you resent this “absorbancy” & commodification by mainstream, commerce & market forces?

You gotta look at the spray can first before answering these questions. It is simply a pressurised cylinder containing liquid paint. A tool cannot define a group, or people. Like the guitar does not define what music type will be played on it. Anyone can use a spray can. It’s not because you use them that you are such and such. People that were not graff writers didn’t know anything about spray cans for like 30 years … They thought it was too hard to use maybe, or it wasn’t as accessible as it is now. Now if you use spray cans as a tool for your work you could be anyone, not necessarily a graff writer, but an aerosol artist for sure. I spoke to my friend today who spray paints everyday for businesses such as pubs, cafes, etc…and he has a graffiti writing background, but he hasn’t done graffiti writing in a long time, he has no time, since all he does is aerosol art for shops to earn his living.


The tag styles still belong to us, the streets. They are from there and businesses don’t want to use them, so it can’t really “sell out” even if it wanted to. However in aerosol art, anything goes, it’s not part of a culture or a movement, so it can be “sold out”. The whole point is to sell out, and not do graffiti writing (like tags or graffiti pieces) to get money in order to do what you want (buy cans to do graff pieces). The two activities co-exist well. There are a few hardcore bombers doing commission work. It’s always been that way since the beginning and no one questions is this sell out or whatever, especially if you still bomb between jobs. Consider it a gig – like for a wedding; not a song creation.

It’s up to the artist to see if they agree with what the client wants him to paint. Usually there is no ethical considerations, or strong political message that is asked to be painted. Companies usually blamed for unjust practices like Microsoft, Monsanto, arms companies, Apple, Google, Amazon, mines, have no need for an aerosol artist, they have much bigger investments to worry about…That’s why I don’t see any creeping commercialisation in graffiti writing. Burton once came out with this snowboard that had a semi wildstyle piece that said Brushie (the name of the board) all across the board, under it; that was in the 90s. *** see photo *** The style was dope and that was real graff. Burton did well by finding the right person. Also in the 90s, Gotcha came out with a shirt *** see photo *** with their company name as a simple graffiti piece. The shock value of graffiti writing is gone now. It’s not the best way to attract clients. It’s way too street, connoted badly, as in a handwriting you shouldn’t see, associated to crime.

The new appearance of the “graffiti agency” has to be mentioned. These are businesses that go around looking for jobs up to corporations, or activity centres, events, and have aerosol artists working for them, and a lot of them are ex- or active graffiti writers (usually not bombers). So these agencies are going to get all the big jobs now. The corporations feel safer asking another professionally structured entity, and more money is on the table as a result. How do the agencies distribute their earnings to the workers Are they hogging up all the work? Do they accept all jobs, even for government institutions? I don’t know, but what’s been said about some of them is not all good. And the aerosol artists working for them are young fellows, trying to earn a living, who don’t want a slave job in a cubicle, they good dudes you know who love graffiti writing. You can’t judge too broadly and would have to look at cases on an individual level. I would say right now in 2023 the controversy is with these agencies …

So in conclusion I can answer the following questions you asked :

What do you think of practitioners that have happily contracted/collaborated with blatantly commercial entities?

As mentioned it’s usually through a third party. Ask the boss that question. I don’t trust them but they provide jobs. It’s Ok for workers to get money to earn a living since most of the time the jobs are not ethically sensitive. Most accused commercial entities do not need or approach graff or aerosol artists. If artists do sell out, it might be out of just not being aware of certain things, because Time can be seen as a luxury.

Does it bother you that framed images of graff may be sitting in the penthouse of some Gulf oil baron, or over the desk of some Palantir employee or Silicon Valley surveillance capitalism shit-suck?

Not really. As mentioned, it’s not because it was done with a spray can that I have to relate to it, or include it as something part of the subculture I love. Even if it was part of it, it probably would be a shit graffiti piece, because the buyer is ignorant. I would find it exciting actually, it would probably mean that a writer got some good cash for it, so that’s good. If it’s a beautiful flower painted with spray paint, why or how could I feel misused, robbed, recuperated … I just don’t get it why people would feel that way. I’m not concerned, that’s it. It’s not what I do so I don’t care. People don’t go around saying “heavymetal is the only way to play the guitar”.


Is it cool to go spray-up some Balkan kleptocrats château for big bank & post the results on Instaspam with some energy drink sponsorship ply?

Fuck no! But that has nothing has to do with graffiti writing. That would be more a statement along the lines: Look how successful I am. You won’t get other graffiti writers relating. The public, the crowd, the aerosol artists in general will like the pictures and not be too bothered about ethical things. Since I am not part of that group I don’t care what they do or think, or feel like they step on my turf. They’re going to take more jobs from us, for sure, but if they’re better than you at it, then admit it. Your vote Does count with what you choose to buy everyday, normal votes mean nothing because they do what they want at the end. Their whole marketing revolves around doing anything possible to avoid their worst fear: public boycott. How could anything hurt them more… You saw this with McDonald’s in SuperSizeMe age, the whole marketing counterattack, without ever any mention of the documentary. So People must Choose what they buy. If they chose wisely we move forward. Boycott or invest, you got two choices for every suggestion shoved in front of your face … Vote for real.

Q6:

Okay! You have said some highly interesting things about public advertising – aka -intrusive non-consensual commerce, bordering on “compulsive consumerism”. I also now want to open up some other areas of question to you regarding public space, the street, & the urban environment.

In terms of the street/outdoor urban – graff takes your creative interaction, extended presence & alfresco duration/time spent in these spaces to another modal & a different level of relationship than the average ambulator/city dweller/commuter et al.

I am sure your perspective is also different, as you’re always looking & evaluating your environment in a potentially interactive capacity.

The activity will also probably take you to spaces & places that will be completely avoided & unfrequented by most others – disused, abandoned, hazardous, dilapidated, unwanted, in-between, inactive, overgrown, off limits, out of reach.

So I want to ask you something a bit wild & almost theological – for someone so tapped into “the city” do you ever feel, see, or treat it like a living entity? Like from an almost “animist” perspective?

Also, for someone who has spent so much time in these derelict, disenfranchised & “written off” quarters of the city/urban construct – what are your thoughts towards these places? Do you like urban decay? “Wasteland”? Overgrown buildings or spaces? Non-public municipal/industrial areas?

Lastly on this – what are your attitudes towards other interactive urban “arts” or avocations – most specifically – urban exploration, but also parkour/free running?

What you speak about, the derelicts sites, exists solely in a nostalgic fashion for me. If people are younger than 40, they just wont get it … People gotta understand there was Loads of these sites before, but now they’re all gone. Its so sad to see them go, and instead build some bullshit offices. Everything was so much more Fun in the 90s! Our 2023 modern society is Shit to me, so fake, controlled, nothing is Wild and spontaneous and Human. What people get into now, is only the remnants of long gone days … You cant really compare the scene back then and now for this reason. And even my scene was a bygone age of the 70s and 80s scene. If people watch 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s, they will see this. We’re really ramping up fast to a very controlled society, as we do this, we take a bit of the soul away from the city.

I actually learned graff in an abandoned pasta factory that was a vast abandoned industrial complex. It would take 4 hours to check all the rooms, huge basements flooded and dark … We got arrested in there once. that feeling comes from that era, as well as a certain fear of police, cameras, strangers looking. My generation is the last to have known and lived the pre-internet days and the days before all the stupid rules dropped. As I say anyone born after 1985 or so wouldn’t really understand … Just like I can’t understand the golden age of graff of NY 1980’s. I am a 90’s kid. The last ones still doing this shit the way it was handed to us from the 80s guys.

As far as parkour, it’s fucking amazing what they do. In a way, maybe that’s the pinnacle of “using” the city. Those guys touch the walls, they really Live the city to such an interesting level with the art of their body … But as far as links with graff, I don’t think there are any. However, with b-boying and the like, there is loads more, and some do both to become more well rounded …

I do regard the city has a big living entity. Always changing and impermanent, a smorgasbord of individuals, but if I were a shaman I’d say it’s sick. Profoundly sick. People can say what they want, but the root of the disease, for me, always comes back to the powers that be that block us on all levels of existence. We are ruled by evil men; and we put them there!

Q7:

There seems to be a special, almost mythic bind between Rap & graff. What, if at all, is the significance of Hip-Hop culture to graff? How do/did they relate? Does it matter? Does it matter to you? Are you an aficionado of Rap/Hip-Hop – & how have you seen it decline or improve over the years?

People paint the music they listen to without even noticing it, but this is observable. People that listen to heavymetal will do something with spikes, deadly, aggressive, destructive in its own core, self-eroding. I can’t even say that people that listen to hip hop will not get burned by one of those heavymetal dudes. I got much respect for what those guys do and as I said before, there’s a good way and a bad way of doing wildstyles, an area that applies itself well to heavymetal styles. There’s loads of respectable and really good stylewriters out there that don’t listen to hip hop music. But for us that listen to hip hop I guess we have our preferred aesthetics. I’d say hip hop is more warm than rock, like funk is to rock, hard to describe, maybe it’s the beat, the heartbeat. And so it’s dance, the letters move and come alive, as opposed to other styles, much more calligraphy influenced. We actually created our own calligraphy, and although it seems the two overlap, I’d say the hip hop type of piece has nothing to do with calligraphy vibes. In my eyes, it’s more advanced than calligraphy, but I suppose people would argue that. Once the stroke is gone, the calligraphy is gone. Our calligraphy is our tags. Then we go further by creating an inside line and an outside line to the stroke, which we draw freehand. Isn’t that more advanced? People aren’t Proud of what they do, it seems sometimes. I’m not trying to blend cultures together, quite the opposite.


A good heavymetal type piece by Taze, Athens. This one says Voodoo.

Another heavymetal type piece by Taze Athens, this one says Oberon. They’re both wildstyles.

The link between hip hop and graff is unmistakeable as you say. The link exists because it’s the same type of people that do it, it’s as simple as that. And when people aren’t hip hop, you See it in their pieces (is it a coincidence they start to look silly?). A writer Has to make his letters dance. A writer Has to have rhythm, an MC Has to paint pictures with words … All these hip hop disciplines work the same way and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that. An ex-b-boy turned graff writer just Gets it, you know. You don’t get that with any other music scene. No other music type can say we have our own visual art movement as locked down as ours … The history is there, the books, the videos, it’s a bit pointless to repeat it all … It’s something to be proud of to be part of this movement. It makes you feel better about yourself. Even if the movement is in your head …

If people have ever been in a proper b-boy jam, and seen all these circles get created and die out, people dying to test their skills against foreigners, rival crews going at it … that’s the mentality for me that represents the closest we can get to real hip hop. It’s more tribal, you see, like a Native American pow wow or something. The tribes congregate and exchange styles. That’s what I hold as my greatest symbol ; not a rapper, or a dj, or a piece on a train, but the b-boys have my biggest respect and they are the ones that inspire me more than graff writers. Even MCs inspire me more than graff writers. There’s crews that have both b-boys and writers in them, where people do both. Ok, what do those pieces look like? You could say “hip hop”, “New York”, “classic” but what they are is b-boy dances, and the dance is a street dance, from the street, originally from 70s gangs, it’s hardcore, menacing, yet proud, intelligent, swift, sometimes posing, looking cool, stable, tough, then wild again. It’s as if a 5 letter word graff piece was 5 different snapshots of 5 freezes during a half minute b-boy passage. It’s clear the letter T is the Egyptian tuts in b-boying, and so on…

Because if this was a b-boy event, most wouldn’t last a round in a cypher, meaning the second round would be a repeat of the first round cuz people are one trick ponies. Ever ask what you would look like as a b-boy if you didn’t make pieces but dances, if we transferred your current style to a dance style ? Maybe this analogy would help make people better due to a certain ideology it supports. Graffiti writers don’t battle anymore ! The judges don’t cut it. Quantity is for Bombers. Leave it to the experts. Do Quality. All those big names in the graff world: some of you guys been sitting on your laurels. I can do 10000 pieces below par if I want, it’s easy. Like Guru of Gangstarr said “And they only got one style which aint all that clever”. Some of these writers are super boring, repetitive like robots. It’s ok if you’re bombing, but if you’re not?!?! I got 900 pieces, all very different from each other. No rehash. That’s illegal since day one … I don’t get it, it’s like the golden principles have been baffled. Respect the history, the tradition, don’t make past b-boys turn over in their grave. Uphold the 90s lineage at all costs till the Death. That’s the mission man … I’m really New York or nothing at the end of the day, and I understand Berlin to be carrying the torch over here in Europe. They’re not biters, have strong foundations, there are loads of stylemasters over there. You can’t Touch Berlin stylewriting! It’s on my flag, crossed out, for a reason, cuz I’m not from there, but it’s my family, no matter what people say or if they accept me or not. That’s a real stylebastard …

Q8:

I want to return to one of your blurtings – “Our 2023 modern society is Shit to me, so fake, controlled, nothing is Wild and spontaneous and Human. What people get into now, is only the remnants of long gone days…

That’s a very strong statement. I think it is also largely very accurate, although I certainly would not be so sweeping or absolute about it & I do think that areas of powerful/radical creative confluence still abound, albeit with much more difficulty & adversity than they would of experienced in previous decades.

How do you think that this enclosure has happened exactly?

I was referring to things like that in the sentence you quoted from me. I was referring to the small things in life we took for granted back then. Like driving fast all the time, getting caught, talking to the cop, and getting let off. Or, just go somewhere, and not worry if we can or not, if its private land, or whatever, fences, gates, people complained less, people were less insecure, less stressed, there was less warning signs, we didn’t have to save so much money for entertainment, we were more ourselves without all this modern obsequiousness. There was more Opinions around, hence more dialogue, the humour was crazier, and more daring, and that was ok for most. All these things got diminished because of more control. If freedom is given, it can be taken away just like that. But this is psychological grooming of the crowd too, so that prohibition doesn’t have to be so much enforced or maintained and money is then saved to buy more bombs. Like one author said “today what we have is a soft form of fascism everywhere”. It’s just slow penetration into everyone’s …

What sedative has been circulated to result in such stultification?

Its not so much that a sedative was given, but illusions sold. Movies generated the fear of germs long before the 2020 virus crisis. I don’t use the C-word or the P-word unless its to say Plandemic. There are long term plans we are not privy to. Things from our psychology keeps getting swept under the carpet. Emotions are suppressed more and more due to a certain self-censorship from fear of being excluded at work and in life. Movies give us what we want to see, someone that lets it all out and goes on a rampage. Star Wars has the rebels’ side, the evil empire is actually real, not in a movie; the rebels are Earth citizens. It’s so obvious, why don’t people say it, the critics are lame, and scared. But we see it in a movie so that we don’t have to act it out and it relieves what we’ve suppressed. It fictionalises the non-fiction side of us. We want to find the courage in us to be heroes, and do the right thing, but we hardly do. So movies give us that. In a way it’s a sedative … There’s many others. They work more as distractions, substitutes.

How much has “technological advancement” or should we say technological “intrusion” “replacement” or even “nullification” played a role in this crippling degradation & shrinkage of creative independence & creative heft?

In the graff world, in the 90s we had magazines, you ordered them or went to the skate/street shop or newstand to get em. Then you had penpals, contacts. People would actually write handwritten letters to each other with a few photos and a sketch inside. It was more Human, you see, the intention was definitely there, if someone takes an hour to put together a letter for you (get doubles at the photo developer, go to post office, actually Write with your hand and a pen a whole page – !). It’s a joy to receive that love, its a true gift, and you know he’s only sending a small percentage of what he has, so you imagine what the rest would look like. The imagination of what Dope could be, is a bit gone. Time was invested in hunting down what you were after, too. Nowadays, if you got better results from just sitting on your couch, it means, in a way, the Value of things drop. I’m talking about the sentimental value. Top pieces become just “another top piece”. That’s why you see all those backstories to the NY photos on IG, cuz it’s not just a photo, it’s an experience people lived … We’re spoiled from the surplus of photos. Because if I can get something really quick, like all these graff photos, then which ones matter to me? Will all this stuff not dilute my identity?

In front of the deluge of information we have to protect ourselves with our selectiveness, i.e. our ego forces, the ones that Chose, the ones that say “I like”, not “they like”. But the system knows this and says I will do this for you, I will choose what [I think] matters to you, since I want to Dilute you into the ocean of the populace. So the individual is in a loop, not on a path to explore. The fake choice, the distraction, so that we never ask ourselves certain things or look in certain corners … The way to combat this is to make things special again. In these times, you Have to be selective. People that select the same things as you, are in your style family, and I feel a strong bond to those people, as if we’re in the same fight, even if our personalities clash. I have my artists I look up to that have made it in the technological world, people like Roc Marciano, those guys are inspiring, but it’s because of all the work they put in the past and their sense of artistry – those type of people really deserve it, and they never went in “the matrix”… However, that’s possible in the U.S., and less possible in other countries, or else you’d have more artists earning a living in the land of the Old World. The New World is over there, and has been for centuries.

If people get into Dune, they will see how Frank Herbert, the author, had a successful jihad against technology in his lore. He was warning about it in the 60s. Passages of the book describe how Humanity saw in the end it was not for their best interest and it was outlawed. They are also personifying service robots and droids in almost every science fiction movie. I find this sinister. The human soul is denied, its existence. Are we both machines? One of us is Alive, and the other runs on electrical current, lets not forget. A robot will never be a human because the Soul is not in a robot. Again, something is being done to remove us from our Humanity, subliminally, by levelling them up, or Us down; planting bad seeds for the future. Its very clear to me. The technological dream is being sold to us, it’s the new religion, like scientism. People feel limited in what they can say, so they tell you “enjoy complete freedom of speech with this network”. You see how they play with language?

Technology is deeply impersonal, so they tell you “now you can be closer to people you love and make new friends”. It’s cold, due to the distance between both speakers, and lacks warmth, plus it’s boring admin work to deal with messages, so they throw happy words around like “yahoo”, “google”, and all these double o words, emoticons, suns with happy faces … But really, when you look at it, phone technology was sold to us with the “it brings people closer together” type of spin, when its clear to see, in the last 20 years, the opposite happened, and people are more distant than ever from others. This is the sad outcome of it all, the main one. It’s bad for your health also, super bad for you, you’re looking at 6000 mv/m2 in your brain every second when you hold your phone up to your ear in a conversation, which is way too high, due to the radiation effects so they tell you “always keep it on you in case something happens”. That way no one would ever wonder that it’s dangerous… In the meantime your brain slowing down year after year.

On a specific kernel – how important was/is the “disconnected” state/experience/origins towards forging imaginative disciplines & creative prowess & understanding? – i.e.“developing” in an environment/era without the interference/stunting/disruption/homogenization & minimisation that is inflicted by the over-technophied, hyper-connected, permanently on-line, “smart”, Artifical Ignorance, algorithm & microtargeted mass idiocy & intellectual/artistic immobilization that we are seeing destroy so much creative capacity & individuality as well as independent thought?

Technique is the Opposite of Creativity. You usually have artists gravitating towards one pole or the other. A few can do both. The Style of the piece is the creativity. Technique is only required to make the style come out, but style directs the ship. Style is the ideas. A technical man is bound to the practical world. It’s hard for these guys to think out the box.

But at one point, a man on his journey, is fed up with Copying. Because that’s what technique is: it’s copying. Somewhere down the line you are copying someone or something that was done before. Even a new technique is based on an old one. It’s about the past. These technical guys love manuals for example. The problem is there is no Style manual. That would be too hard to write. You gotta think out the box for Style. So that’s the problem there.

The split is clear between creativity and technology. Technology always comes after the Idea…

Technology is only there to help the second stage shorten and will Never help in the first because they’re antithetical.

So this is the problem we have in our society now. There is too much weight on technology at the expense of creativity. There should be a balance. These are two poles. In a way its a bit similar to freedom vs security, with our society on the pole of security. Again, freedom (creativity) is discarded. We Don’t have a balanced society. We have a repetitive one, based on the past, because of too much technique and technology.

How important to you was your experience – & everything forged from it that remains in your possession – of “coming up” in an epoch without internet, mobile phones, drones, powerful computers, machine learning, AI, contactless, QR codes, screen scrape et al – before the garbage piled up & took over everything?

I think what some have called development is actually regression. I feel truly blessed to have incarnated at a time to have known both worlds, the ones before mobile phones and after (or: post-internet and pre-internet). I am of that last generation that can claim to have known both epochs. If you’re born after 85, you wouldn’t remember cassettes, for example, you would have seen them, but not have used them for years like we did. The pre-internet times, my memories of them, are very special to me. Anyhow, I think the age of 13-15 is when you might just run across something that will blow your mind, and a little voice will tell you to do it everyday, something Magical is calling you (if you value it) … Things are magical at that age. You’re too dumb to put words to it, but later in life, you can, and things start making sense as to why you do what you always did, and how it started personally. You cant speak about the past without getting emotional and personal, or else it’s a history lesson. It’s probably better to get more than one view about anything involving the past.

You also don’t do any kind of “social media” & I believe never have? Can you elucidate as to why you have rejected & abstained from what is generally seen as such a common & essential means of ….. “communication” ?

Graff has been through many stages. Not just myspace, and flickr, but there was other sites that were good, run by graff writers since at least 99. Now it’s all IG… Another giant has taken over everything. Its true I don’t have an IG account.

Because I have nothing to sell, for one. I think professionals have a good reason to use it.
Because I understand these services are owned by corporations I don’t like, who themselves are linked to agencies I assume are corrupt and play games with your mind.
Because when everyone plays a game, its a bad sign, and “mob rule” isn’t far off, or at least some form of crowd effect that creates a new lifestyle and with it a new conduct. It’s a monopoly, it’s very communistic in fact.

Because it has no practical value to me. It would be time consuming.
Because you can’t get IG on your laptop only, they want your phone number.
Because those apps are not supported on Linux systems.
Because I can easily see myself slipping away into some social media addiction and scrolling uselessly for ages like everyone.
Because I believe its not on a small screen you should see an artist’s work.
Because when I read the comments, sometimes I get mad and want to react, but it’s better not to.
Because it only show your photo and shut up.
Because you are seen as “the weirdo”, or mr. arrogant if you start writing more than 10 words describing your work and you can’t be controversial or else you get flagged – a polite way to say arbitrarily censored – by the corporation who Owns what you use everyday, and who is bullied into something by a bigger fish.
Because I’m not attracted by the fame.
Because receiving “likes” and “favourites” mean nothing to me from someone that knows nothing about the type of graff I do. One favourite from one knowledgeable person is worth 1000 favourites from those guys that know nothing and who I couldn’t care less if they see or not my piece. Since when does the number of likes and views matter so much that it’s featured prominently?

And why do I have to “follow” anyone. Strange use of the word “follow”. We’re changing the English meanings… Following someone is dangerous… You follow a car, a path, you don’t follow a person’s account or art, subconsciously you’re again erasing your identity because the mind knows that “follow” has two meanings even though you think you only use one at a time. You know you don’t really follow someone you follow, yet you do since you follow them…
Because if I don’t have an account, the credit, or links, or comments I get are worth more, since they didn’t come from something I started. That way things are more natural.
Because nothing is worth a live human reaction to a photo, when you publish on IG, or any other platform, you cut all that out.
I recognise the good sides of it, too, but for me, the negative outweighs the positive.
One of the good sides was the history of NY graff really got covered well on IG, with a lot of never before seen photos. In that sense it became a great learning tool, and I hope some people used that to make their style better, I know I did …

Q9:

Q.Bal40! – Many thanks for the extraordinary perspicacity & vigorous science bombing – RESPECT!

For the outro, can I just get your “thoughts” on the new nadir of “generative AI” & the perversion of machine generated art?

The nullifidian vandals are actually going for it, with Microsoft & Google some of the heaviest investors in this obscene, existentially insulting, imbecilic & offensive, creatively corrosive shit-wash that will damage, disrupt & deaden collective human creativity … & for what?

These sweeping denigrations, intellectual assaults, destruction of artistic ecosystems, mass-impounding & adulteration of creative cycles & harsh abrasion towards free-thinking/ideas, drag-net plagiarism, muddling & unauthorised stealth-miscegenation & looting of others art, imagination, intellectual & artistic property/ideas, personal & creative thinking process … another intrusive privatisation & extractive channel with humongous implications for creative theft, plunder, & spying/stealing from artists & art forms.

Also the sheer sick, moronic, weirdo, freak-fuck idiocy of it … why would you ever want fucking art from a machine? What kind of twisted, fudged-thinking, fuck-up would ever want this madness?

what’s wrong with these people”?

Is no desecration to great?

Do you consider such mass invasions of art/creativity/thought/imagination space a “crime against humanity”?

How do you feel – as a veteran styles writer – that a schmuck like Bill Gates is sitting on the Lolita Express eyeing up your creative repertoire & is shifting his filthy billions into infiltrating your sphere for some mass trawling rake-off & brain-swag?

As if they have not already fucked, destroyed & stolen enough already?

The billionaire trappers in Silicon Valley, none of them practising artists themselves, conspiring to part-privatise & force entry into the entire creative/artistic cosmos & start extracting, counterfeiting, contaminating, mapping, & machinating a huge “mind grab” of unprecedented corporate espionage & creative kleptocracy – ruining the power, independence & authenticity of art as a result, & stealing or “strangling” many “ideas” at birth through the fog of online unaccountability.

TELL EM’!!!

I was speaking about Dilution earlier on. This AI stuff really is about that, the ultimate dilution to produce something. I think we should come up with a new word other than artificial intelligence because that could apply to a human. But we are saying now, no, you can only use “artificial intelligence” to describe machines. If these auto-generated things prevail and get better, they might be able to produce university assignments. Which would reveal what – that the system has rotten education, because since a machine can do it, it asks you to Be a machine. And that shocks no one. You might want to re-structure the whole schooling system just because of this, one that values human thought, which is in essence out the box, all-encompassing, individually unique, and not mechanistic, not constantly conforming to Universities. They invented something that might just hurt themselves a bit.

13. DispeL9 ... apr 2024 ... let us not digress
LINK TO Q.BAL’s PHOTOS.