graff/it/i new york city

graff/it/i new york city web app

graff/it/i new york city

I believe that a key part of making a spatial argument is to situate it in the very geospatial context of the reader. I want to explore the possibility of doing this by inviting smart phone users to participate in a an intermediary step toward my map on the URT.

“graff/it/i new york city” maps the graffiti that the city either scheduled to remove or recently have removed. The locations presented through the app combines and aggregates the graffiti locations data set from NYC OpenData with data collected by users of the app on the locations. The data that users submit may included photos, tags, and descriptions of the record’s location. Currently only photos of the graffiti locations may be posted.

Users can explore the data that the city generates by navigating between graffiti pending removal and graffiti that was removed. Details of the record can be retrieved. In addition, the user can explore possible paths that cleaning crews and street investigators navigated by tracking the record’s “spoor” – i.e. stringing together nearby records that were made on the same date.

This is a web app, so some functions are a little odd. To add photos, please download picup from the iTunes store in your iPhone (this may not be the same app for Android devices). Once you have opened the web app in Safari, you can save it to your home screen by clicking the “Add to Home Screen” menu under the “forward” button next to the bookmark button in the browser. To open the app point a qr-code reader on your smart phone to:

or enter the following address into the iPhone’s safari:


  1. I really like this, especially as graffiti is something that changes and relies specifically upon our temporal and spacial contexts, as opposed to being something that seems to have a permanent place based location on a map. One question and I may have missed it- does the data users record or (map) get stored permanently, or do records disappear as the graffiti does- a sort of digital statement on the act of graffiti as one of temporality?

  2. Thanks for the response, Lara. I like this idea of bringing a sense of temporality to the documentation of the graffiti. I hope to discuss this further in my process notes, because I think there is an intriguing tension between the trace of the graffiti and the trace of city administration’s record of the graffiti. On the one hand, the trace of the graffiti disappears as the city removes it, but on the other hand it does not. It remains below the paint applied over it and it remains as a trace or record on the hard drives of city administrators.

  3. Great discussion, Lara and Christo. I know this speaks to one of your perennial concerns, Christo: can anything *ever* be erased?

    I really like the participatory nature of your data collection. And I love the potential for “spooring” (which sounds to me like a Bruce Sterling / Internet-of-Things concept).

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