Edit: video from WTVD and WRAL. And, for what it's worth, I doubt that any of the people I imagine are behind this actually owns a paintball gun, or any type of gun at all. It's not that type of neighborhood.
I haven't done much traffic circle blogging lately. Part of the reason is that the camera has been hosed on and off. I've also had less time. And, frankly, the traffic circle hasn't been much to look at recently. But now it's been spruced up. Someone even re-painted the, er, manhole cover.
Have I ever mentioned that my neighborhood, Duke Park, jokingly goes by the name "Dyke Park"? :)
I wrote this elsewhere, and decided that it needed to be closer to home:
... the issue of what "public art" is has been in my mind lately: About 18 months ago, the city installed a small traffic circle in an intersection very near where I live. Neighbors quickly started -- well, putting things in it. Some started taking pictures and blogging about it; I did too after someone gave me a camera, but no one has captured everything that's been "installed."
It took less than a year before people started complaining. We also had someone from the local paper call neighbors, asking for interviews, and an article appeared. Not long after that, we had the first incident where something was destroyed. Then we started having both copycats and more destruction. The gay pride display that was, uh, detourned also was about when the installations started becoming IMO more political.
I'm sure some of the stuff put out there has seemed stupid or pointless to some people (including me), but in general, I've loved having it in the neighborhood, and I think lots of my neighbors would agree.
The current state of the local traffic circle is that the city is going to be changing it to a more permanent fixture: the initial one was constructed in such a way as to be easily removable. I believe the new one will be filled with dirt and plants. It's also been being used less. It's been used for more than these installations: some neighbors have taken to setting a table there on April Fools' Day and having sort of a party. There was a really well-attended New Year's Eve function: instead of dropping a ball, a peace sign was run up on a mast someone put up (again, more political, but I think many people who showed up cared particularly much about the politicization in this case).
Long introduction, but I think the main thing I decided while thinking about this over the last year or two has been that there needs to be a difference between art and defacement, even if I don't know how to make the delineation. Some have argued that if the function of the traffic circle's installations is to provoke thought, then destroying the installations is just as valid as putting them there to begin with. I disagree. Everyone has opinions, and all can generally express them, but I don't think detournement or destruction is necessary to express that opinion, even if one chooses to label that opinion as "art." There's also a way that the original expression or art is cancelled by some destructive commentary. If we allow anything to be erased or modified by anyone else, it can become difficult to evince some expressions at all: if anyone puts anything in the traffic circle, and then someone else removes the item a millisecond later, there's a huge waste of time and resources, enriching almost no one. But some of the accretion that has occurred with traffic circle installations -- one person doing something to another's installation -- has been IMO positive.
I still have theoretical concerns about how to handle this kind of public art: Who gets to do what and where, and who doesn't? What detournement is allowed? (It generally seems to me that detournement as accretion is slightly better than simple destruction.) What about the fact that the city owns the traffic circle itself, and citizens have paid taxes for its construction? What about safety issues?
I was thinking of Wikipedia when I was writing about the traffic circle. It hadn't actually occurred to me before. :)
It would be nice to have another word instead of "art" for some creative expressions. "Craft" doesn't cut it here either, but maybe it's closer. "Expression" works, but is awfully bland.
I also take issue slightly with the statement "Lots of brilliant art is ugly", because it seems to be used to justify a lot of ugly crap. Just because a creation is ugly (or thought-provoking, or evokes strong emotion, or pretty or in a museum for that matter) doesn't make it art to me. I know I'm backing myself into a Potter Stewart "I know it when I see it" corner here, but either people are allowed to make aesthetic judgments, or they aren't.
Fido made the Raleigh paper: Durham wag's concrete dog begs for freedom. I've actually come to think of Fido as female for some reason, and even put a bow on her head a few days ago (it's gone now). I also have my doubts about requiring dogs to be leashed while also requiring then not to be chained. The proposed no-chaining ordinance is described as "complaint-driven." Yeah, right.
The bulk of complaints I know of seem to be about what are simply noisy dogs. In my mind, captive dogs are noisy dogs, whether fenced or chained. A leash law, which Durham already has, is reasonable. But the leash law doesn't help with strays, and is selectively enforced (not necessarily complaint-driven), like I'm betting the chaining law will be.
What this combination seems like to me is only allowing dogs for people who have fenced yards, and who can pacify their neighbors when the dog is noisy (either by letting it inside or other means). The above group, in my experience, while they may have money, aren't necessarily good pet owners either. But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. :)
I didn't originally think Fido's installation was actually so politically motivated. Maybe it was. This installation certainly has become politically charged. But I thought the chains were probably just practical, to keep the sculpture from being damaged or put in the road. The sculpture was actually knocked over a few days ago, but wasn't damaged, and stayed in the circle. It was quickly righted.