Cultural Graffiti: A 5 Day Experiment – Day 1 – Spaces

The ‘5 Day Experiment’ format is a call to action: a structured exploration of a topic, based in daily activities that just take a few minutes. In this 5 Day Experiment we will explore Cultural Graffiti, the voices that are shared in the semi formal Edge-Land spaces of an Organisation. Feel free to take part by sharing your responses in the comments, or by #WorkingOutLoud on Twitter.

Graffiti is a claimed voice in forgotten spaces: nobody has to give it to you, rather you can pick it up for yourself, and conquer the territory to use it within.

Whilst formal stories inhabit prominent and permitted spaces, graffiti, by contrast, tends to exist on the edges of society: the industrial estates, the back door of the restaurant, the alleyway.

These spaces can be known as ‘Edge-Lands’, or ‘Liminal Spaces’, on the fringes of society, neither fully formal urban performance spaces, nor totally unclaimed wilderness ones. Often unowned and unloved, but necessary and controlled by some form or law and order.

Another way to look at them is as inter-tidal: there is the sea, and there is the land, but between the two is an area that is constantly swept clean, the canvas is cleared. This is the space of graffiti.

We can take this idea and use it to understand how stories are shared, in a range of communities, within our own Organisations, which are made up of a broad range of spaces, from our fully formal ‘performance’ ones, to the edge-land spaces of social technology, or the canteen or bar.


In this activity, we will map these Edge-Land spaces: our aim is to create a view of the Social Organisation, and to chart where the Cultural Graffiti may be found, or encouraged.

I have created a framework to support you in doing this. Choose a space, and then map it against this template.

  • Visibility – how visible is the space? Is it an open space, or a closed one? Can anyone join, or is it by invite only? Is it mainstream, or peripheral? Is it a destination space, or a glimpse through a window?
  • Transience – how permanent is the space? Does it last forever, or wash away with the tide? Can you withdraw a conversation that has been had, or can someone else silence it? Is it like a conversation that floats away on the breeze and is gone forever, or is it carved in stone, for eternity?
  • Consequence – what forms of consequence exist? Are you breaking a rule, or simply social convention? Do formal rules apply, or social ones? Does a conversation here count as a ‘work’ one, or is it a social opinion on the side? Is this space formal, or fully social?
  • Ownership – do you own what you write, or does someone else? Is it attributable, or anonymous? Can you silence others, or does everyone own the space?

Find and document two examples. You can use the ‘Learning Postcard’ i shared above, or draw your own space to respond. Here’s an example that i have completed to illustrate how it works:

A WhatsApp Conversation

  • Visibility – it’s only visible to those who are invited to a group, unless it’s screenshot, when the message may carry beyond that.
  • Transience – it’s transient, in a stream, and you can delete your own messages (but not those of others). But it can also be captured by screenshot and carried out of the space.
  • Consequence – it’s a social space, so should be clear of formal consequence, but there is no written rule.
  • Ownership – it’s owned by you, or by the community, but not by the Organisation.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Culture, Graffiti and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Cultural Graffiti: A 5 Day Experiment – Day 1 – Spaces

  1. Pingback: Cultural Graffiti: A 5 Day Experiment – Day 3 – Sanctioned Subversion | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

  2. Pingback: Cultural Graffiti: A 5 Day Experiment – Day 4 – Silent Voices | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

  3. Pingback: Cultural Graffiti: A 5 Day Experiment – Day 4 – Silent Voices – Journal Monks

  4. Pingback: Cultural Graffiti: A 5 Day Experiment – Day 5 – Guidelines for Graffiti | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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