The Library Game.

My definition of graffiti may be overly broad, but then again my definition of art may also be overly broad. I can’t help it. Every time I’ve started the sentence “Art is…” I feel like there’s no succinct all-encompassing way to finish it without excluding something. Trying to define art is like trying to define what games are. Think about how many different ways we use the word “game”. Or “art”. And while a picture may be worth a thousand words a thousand words don’t necessarily add up to a picture, but that’s another story.

Anyway I think this sticker qualifies as graffiti.

005It may not be original but it was put in a public—well, in this case semi-public—place by someone without authorization. It’s an act of vandalism but a positive one.

I know—defining “a positive act of vandalism” may be just as thorny as defining art.

The sticker commands us to read, but why the blindfold? Are we blind without knowledge? Or should we read blindly, being open to all perspectives, all possibilities? And is it wearing headphones or it just a weirdly shaped butterfly decapitated head? Feel free to throw out any answers or questions of your own.

This sticker is in Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Library. If you live in Nashville or if you’re visiting and have a chance to drop in to the library see if you can find it. The picture is the only clue you’ll get from me.

Since libraries are fun places to explore I thought I’d make a game of it.



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  1. Ann Koplow

    I always appreciate the games you play, Chris. And here’s the play of my gamey mind about that library sticker:

    There’s a tension between blindness and seeing there. I imagine that there’s an interesting book on the other side of that word “Read” that only she can see and read. Those are definitely butterfly wings, to me, so that’s about how reading helps us flit around to new ideas and even soar sometimes.

    It’s all good. Thanks.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m so glad you shared your intriguing thoughts on what the sticker might mean. And you’ve made me think that interpreting the sticker is kind of a game in itself. The butterfly wings could also be transformation. For instance I’m thinking now of how your comment has transformed how I look at that sticker.

  2. M. Firpi

    If it’s not original and the fact that it’s a sticker means it’s not graffiti. To me, stickers, posters, or signs belong to graphic art which is meant to be produced in quantities. Graffiti is always original because it’s done directly on a wall or surface. Graffiti could make use of stencils or templates to make images, but they’re always original because they’re not reproduced in quantities as graphic art is. Sometimes graphic art uses symbols and it’s connected to photography. As to the meaning this sticker has, it seems to be symbolic of something, maybe what Ann said. Usually graphic artists are skillful artists with a sense for design. I don’t think it’s a protest against literacy.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s a good point–my definition of art may be overly broad. I agree that it’s probably not a protest against literacy, although it would be interesting if it were because its placement in a library would be contradictory to that message.
      And also as a written statement the illiterate wouldn’t be able to read it.


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