Emmanuel Tresmontant - 2010-05-10
Adidas has created an iPhone application dedicated to urban art which is currently only available for the cities of Hamburg and Berlin. Graffiti, spray cans, collages, stencils and sculptures are tucked away in some of the strangest places and giving the city an incredible energy. This is an unusual and fun way to discover the town!
“The city is a gallery. The adidas Urban Art Guide is the catalog.”
Despite being self-assured and a tad provocative, this slogan, essentially aimed at young people who all too often see art in museums as the reserve of a grumpy elite, nevertheless does contain a grain of truth.
These artists, who are often anonymous and from the fringes of society, born during the 80s and 90s, from Europe, the United States and Japan, have decided to take the cities by storm and use them as playgrounds of experimentation. It is exactly the same spirit that the impressionist painters demonstrated in the 19th century when they took their easels to open fields, street corners or in front of the Cathedral in Rouen...
Their works which are often spectacular and rich in meaning cover the walls, roofs, pathways, trees, street lamps and doors, blending into an urban environment which is always changing and alive. In the galleries and museums art has a sacred status, yet in this case it becomes part of daily life and runs the risk of quickly disappearing due to bad weather, under posters, and general mistreatment. Or being stolen by enthusiastic collectors!
In Hamburg you can use your iPhone to discover some of these works which are found mainly in the red light district of Sankt Paoli, above the fish market. The application presents the artists, their techniques and the streets in which their works are to be found. The photos are of a high quality but you can’t help wishing for a real guided tour with slightly better developed audio commentaries.
There is one detail that Adidas seems to have overlooked which is the length of the streets and the immensity of the urban space! Here in Hamburg walking from one block of houses to another is quite a marathon. In fact the best way to get about is by taking the metro, bus or taxi. These works of art were not made to be the destinations of city-walks because in this case there is often deception upon arrival. It is much more interesting when you come across them unexpectedly as this is when you really get a feeling of appreciation for them.
Putting this reservation aside, Adidas’ application is worthwhile as street art is still a domain which is largely unknown to the public. Above all it allows you to find, list and locate this art which often blends into the urban landscapes almost invisibly.
Download the iPhone application: