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The Future of Murals?

Words:

Edd Norval
March 11, 2019

'What will the future look like?' isn't a good question. The 'will' suggests that the person being asked must have exceptional knowledge and prescience into what the future will hold. Replace the 'will' with a 'could' though, and some of the world's best art has been created in response.

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This isn't about Futurism though, nor Blade Runner, although both could be held as beacons scanning the horizon for what the future could potentially hold. Instead, this is about an artist that has used the old, often political, artistic medium of the mural and fast-fprwarded it by about 100 years.


On a recent visit to Hawaii for the 2019 POW! WOW! HAWAII arts festival, street artist Spidertag spent six days working on an innovative neon mural that utilises actual light, complimented by his own paint-based handywork.


During the day, the piece stands on its own, but its as the night falls that it begins to shine. It makes perfect sense really. For a festival that sees vast areas of the island being worked on by a plethora of talented artists, the daylight battle is a difficult one. But as the sun falls from the island's face, darkness smothers the vibrancy of the other pieces, but not this one.

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Titled Neon Interactive Mural #3, the piece uses neon cables, of which Spidertag explains, "That’s the field in which I’m working right now. My research is to make murals in a different way. Something new in the world of street art. It’s also interactive, because people have the chance to make some changes in the mural - play with it. For this mural I also wanted to create something dual, that represents order and chaos."


Experimental forms aren't new for the Madrid-based artist though, he has previously used textiles like string to enhance abstract works with texture and perspective, contributing to the feeling of an immersive piece.


It's not only the form that's challenging expectations of murals though, it's the medium itself. Sure, it's still a mural on a wall, but it reinterprets how they are seen. We associate paint as something visible only during the day and that neon is something reserved for motels signs and bustling capital cities.


For Spidertag, he has opened up a whole new realm for art, one that operates at night that isn't necessarily 'light art', at least not as it typically exists. Whilst neither sign nor painting, it functions justly as both and neither. Inspired by the internal chaos he experienced after jet-leg from a 25 hour flight.


Its hazy and buzzing appearance has a hallucinogenic property, an ephemeral presence that can be moulded and sculpted by the audience. It's art that's a part of him, but also a part of us. It's a late-night conversation between disparate people half the world away.

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