Graffiti is one area of art and design that seems to divide opinion the most. The argument of ‘Is it art?’ is one we’ve all heard or been involved with, but artist Mathieu Tremblin has thankfully created a new spin on its everyday form. Across France, Germany and the Netherlands he has laboriously covered up the indecipherable graffiti we see on the shutters of shops, car parks and train tracks, into words we can actually read and understand.
Tag Clouds was born out of Mathieu’s experience as a graffiti artist, “I used to be a tagger, I always felt name writing graffiti and especially tagging, is the ground basis of self-expression in an urban space.” However, once taggers gained access to the internet, the space for self expression grew dramatically. Yet this only seemed to increase an interest in graffiti, giving taggers a platform to discuss and compare work. Mathieu, who is currently studying a PHD in Visual Arts at the University of Strasbourg, understood that taggers were trying to “bring a playful and adventurous way of discovering the city”, the way that online users would discuss what tags they had seen that day. Modifying the graffiti was Mathieu’s way to make everyone understand, “sharing URL and gathering IRL”.
To create this body of work Mathieu would dress as an employee of the council, allowing no intervention from authorities, and therefore no one realised he was creating an art piece. This tactic surprisingly worked the majority of the time, with Mathieu only once being arrested in Eindhoven. In regards to the typefaces used to make the original tags comprehensible, Mathieu used the default settings used on web browsers such as, Times, Helvetica, Arial, Verdana and Georgia.
Mathieu’s typographic decisions allow this project to become not only recognisable but relatable, precisely demonstrating that Tag Clouds is a thoughtful attempt to make people interested in this misunderstood art form.
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