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The Place-making and Artivism of thrashbird

If an artist sees the streets as his canvas, rather than linen weave encircled by a static wood frame, he has a unique opportunity to impart his beliefs to a broad range of people and embolden these viewers to examine challenging content. In his diverse and extensive body of work, thrashbird maximizes these opportunities, dismantling aesthetic boundaries, tackling physical obstacles and evolving the mechanisms of the practice itself.

thrashbird initially forged his reputation for an image he calls The Clone—a male figure glued to his phone, mindlessly texting. The Clone’s long, slender body crumples inward to accommodate the screen and his face, obscured by a hoodie, is transfixed by the digital world and oblivious to the actual world around him. The simplicity of thrashbird’s design makes the content of the work immediate and digestible. However, the subtleties of his social commentary unfold over time, imprinting on viewers and sparking awareness of systemic issues that plague society.

Another significant avenue thrashbird explores and elevates is the concept of place-making. Street art in general is a powerful place-making tool and the work of thrashbird specifically adds innovation to this conversation. His disruption of place extends traditional expectations of street art to include subversive billboard takeovers in urban spaces and playful transformations of abandoned spaces in more rural ones.

Recently, thrashbird has started to explore the effects of insidious consumerism and celebrity intoxication, using phrases such as “U Need More Shit” and “U R Not Famous,” to spark conversation and outline his concerns. Furthermore, he has innovated within the tech world, forging a unique connection between his art and the bourgeoning way consumers can interact with it in a digital space. The artist built an augmented reality application wherein users can scan their photographs of his clones and watch as a unique, site-specific speech bubble in thrashbird’s signature script emerges. Not only does this digital avenue offer creative foresight and promote interaction but also simulates the immersive nature of encountering a thrashbird piece on the street; however, through the contained source of an individual phone. Aligned with the subversive leitmotif of his work, thrashbird’s new project is not without its clever irony: as his Clone is a visual warning not to become overly trapped in our screens, his seductive foray into digital interactivity makes it difficult for us to put our screens down.

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