Walls of the Internet

From back alleys to Facebook walls: the street art-tech connection is heating up -- and changing SF's street scene

Ian Ross gets down on a mural for AdRoll at the Mid-Market tech company's office party.


STREET SEEN The mural was neatly rendered in aerosol, with an expert's eye for color. It read "Facebook." Surrounding text bubbles proclaimed "poke," "write on your wall," and "I'll find something to put here" to the denizens of Sixth Street.

Tech-based graffiti? If you're up on the Bay Area art scene, the juxtaposition won't come as any surprise — the companies building the Internet have emerged as major supporters of professional street art.

"The influx of tech companies has affected our business at all levels," says Daniel Pan, founder of SoMa's 1AM Gallery. Pan and his team exhibit works by local graff legends and recently came under attack by conservative SF Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius for 1AM's retail space, which sells one of SF's best selections of street art sprays and tools.

Scenes from 1AM Gallery's corporate graffiti workshops. Photos courtesy 1AM Gallery

The gallery also facilitates corporate graffiti workshops like the one that gave birth to the aforementioned 2010 Facebook mural, and arranges custom murals for techland's stomping grounds. Last month, the gallery released a mobile app perfect for capturing, cataloguing, and searching for one's favorite pieces of street art all over the world.

"On a very fundamental level, tech has allowed the street art scene in San Francisco, and worldwide, to spread faster and further than ever," Pan says.

1AM is by no means the only site of this pairing. Though Facebook may have led the way for the tech-street art connection, having tapped artist David Choe to do its office walls back when the company was still in its Palo Alto offices, you can now see murals in the YouTube office park — and in many tech companies across the Bay.

Among the experts with whom I spoke for this story, many attributed the trend to the fact that the new tech elite is much younger than the leaders in other industries.

"They share a lot of the same values," Vikki Tobak of the Palo Alto Arts Commission told me. "[Street art] is young, DIY, there's no pretense. It's very 'of the generation' in terms of who works at these companies."

Tobak points to various ways the two worlds are interfacing. Eyebeam's Graffiti Research Laboratory is the maker of "L.A.S.E.R. Tag," a system that allows artists to project digital tags onto buildings from a distance of hundreds of meters. Re+Public's reality augmenting mural app allows street art fans to travel through time at NYC's famed Bowery wall and digitally hallucinate via animations and 3D effects in Miami's Wynwood Walls mural complex. Locally, Tobak sees the in-progress University Avenue tunnel mural project that will transform a major pedestrian connector in one of Silicon Valley's first cities as an example of how street art-style work has gained traction among techies. Zynga neighbor Project One Gallery hosts tech happy hours within walls covered in murals by acclaimed visual artists.


wow - everything is wrong with this

keep Facebook out of SF

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 11:20 am

How utterly destitute San Francisco has become since the days when Twist, Reminisce, and Animal Liberation Front roamed the back alleys and byways.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 08, 2013 @ 11:36 am

where is this stuff and how quickly can we annihilate the private property?

Posted by capitalismthedecay on May. 08, 2013 @ 11:57 am

this is not art, this is "corporate" linguistics of the inchoate sort.

to those with the right eyes, this is easy to perceive.

Posted by capitalismthedecay on May. 08, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

It is over.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 12:08 pm


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Posted by empower network on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 12:41 am

Regarding data-mining Facebook:

FYI: "Mark Zuckerberg Makes Enemies of Some Liberal Groups, He Supports Keystone Pipeline"

From the article:

"Among the experts with whom I spoke for this story, many attributed the trend to the fact that the new tech elite is much younger [ed. and mostly white] than the leaders in other industries.

The new San Francisco = Tiburon

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

Fortunately, Facebook is slowly dying. People are tired of the data-mining. I read that teenagers are turning off from it. They're quickly changing over to the latest and newest fad.

What ever happened to talking with each other (as opposed to texting)? Talking is still much faster than texting, even if every-other word is "like."

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

More from Mr "Change we can believe in" and "Looking Forward":

Obama administration to back wiretap law for social media
"The Obama administration is close to announcing its support for a law that would force Google, Facebook and other Internet communications companies to build back doors for government wiretaps, according to an article in the New York Times Wednesday.

Such a measure would allow intelligence agencies, particularly the FBI, to monitor a vast array of communications, including Facebook messages, chats, and email using services such as Gmail."


Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 2:48 am

...is simply commercial illustration.

"People don't need to know anything about art to get something out of the experience."

Ah, art that doesn't challenge. So easy to take in, like spoon-fed yogurt.

Posted by Ragazzu on May. 09, 2013 @ 11:00 am

Street wall art is becoming a trend now days. Many countries and organizations are giving their maximum support to promote it. The wall art competition took place at San Francisco is an example for it. Thanks for sharing the pictures of it.

Posted by www.windowsupdatesupport.com on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 2:05 am

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