Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cold K(iller)'s Uncle in Fremont?

Left: Not Cold K, a derivative?; Right: A Stranger Cover from 2004Cold K SkullThe Stranger Cover from 2004
I’m in the process of making my way through Painting without Permission: Hip-Hop Graffiti Subculture [2002] by Janice Rahn and Graffito [1996] by Michael Walsh. The former is lots of text and the latter is lots of pictures. I feel like I've spent way too much time trying to understand graffiti, specifically tagging, and perhaps I will never truly understand it because I am not writing in their shoes, so to speak.

Putting aside the illegality issue of tagging, I'm simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by it. Intriguing is the idea of distilling yourself and your message to a series of letters or symbols and putting it out there, everywhere. "I'm here! I'm alive! I did this!" The inventiveness and beauty of some of it. The idea of celebrating the alphabet and putting letters together in new ways.

Repulsive is the repetitious nature of it, the ugliness of some it. Writing a tag over and over again would seem boring and lead to brand fatigue. But, from what I've read, it's anything but boring, there is excitement and a high that comes from the creative destruction process. Some describe it as a meditation.  The purpose of taggers are numerous and vary: to get their tag up as much as possible, to be seen in interesting locations, to win the respect of the community, to communicate an idea.

As my role as a viewer (neither tagger, nor authority) there is a fine line. Some tagging is, dare I say, okay and thought provoking. Too much is ugly and makes you feel like life is out of control (well, it sort of is). It's great that the tagger had his (most are male) release at my visual and, ultimately, financial expense (my taxes go to clean up).
This skull and bones ghost-like creature with fangs appeared recently on a wall in Fremont. After poking around a bit, I discovered that it’s either the work of the tagger called Cold Killer (disputed in comment below and probably writer is correct), a derivative, or random chance look-alike because half skulls with fangs are all the rage. Here are some other Cold K images for comparison and they don't seem that similar. I tried to find out something about this tagger's motivation.  Is he trying to say something I should know? There was a 2004 piece about Cold Killer in the Stranger (2004 Sept 16-22) that talked about his motivation, but that article has been pulled due plagiarism issues. I've wasted too much time on this.

Under the new Mercer Underpass.


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