Monday, 10 September 2012

Black Shook: Graffiti and Folklore

Wikipedia defines 'tagging' as "A form of graffiti signature." Tagging is often the most inconspicuous form of graffiti, and is certainly the one my brain has most successfully tuned out: graffiti can be artistically fabulous, ironic, disturbing, but the simple scrawling of one's nickname across a public place doesn't spark too much interest for me. I assume the marking of one's territory is seen as the main sociological reason behind the trend, but I find this reasoning fairly unsatisfactory - seeing little difference between felt-tipping a name on a bus stop and a dog pissing on a lamppost. As an attempt at self-mythologising, or macho posturing, or laying claim on a certain few streets - it's just sort of, well, lame. I'm more sympathetic when I think about it more in relation to what I do: whenever I photograph a site - be it woodland, a derelict house, an old station, whatever - I do feel as if I have both become a (minor) part of its individual history, as it has mine. There's always a knowing sense whenever passing by these locations afterwards. As many of these places - especially the abandoned and derelict buildings - are already always plastered with graffiti, there is clearly an overlap between graffiti artists and people interested in photography similar to my own. Whilst I use the term for labelling purposes on this site, I'm not massively comfortable with the term 'urban exploration;' not least because, as they are the people who always seem several steps ahead of me, graffiti-pedlars have a stronger claim to the term.

Anyhow. Long preamble over. This entry is a collection of images of one tag - Shook. I must have walked past this name a million times in a million different parts of the city (along with other prolific Norwich tags such as Megaboom, Quir, and, uh, Andy), yet it only recently dawned on me that, phonetically, this tagger is a sort of namesake of East Anglia's most famous legend - Black Shuck, the Devil Dog. I don't know if this is intentional, and I sort of hope it's just a strange accident that even the person responsible isn't aware of the irony of another Shuck stalking the Eastern region.

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