‘Different Folks, Different Strokes’: goINDIGO 2022’s «Creators vs Academics» Discussion Round

  • Samuel Merrill
  • Geert J. Verhoeven
  • Benjamin Wild
  • SERT '
  • SNUF '
  • Massimiliano Carloni
  • Martin de la Iglesia
  • Francisca Fernandez Merino
  • Ljiljana Radošević
  • Chiara Ricci
  • Jona Schlegel
  • Stefan Wogrin


During the first discussion round of goINDIGO 2022, which took place on Thursday, 12 May and was called Creators vs Academics, four local graffiti creators were invited to consider a series of (potentially provocative) statements in discussion with symposium participants (joining in-person and online). The statements, compiled by Geert Verhoeven in consultation with Samuel Merrill, were:

Academia CHANGES graffiti
Graffiti MUST be recorded
ALL graffiti are archive-worthy
Decontextualisation MATTERS
Graffiti NEED categorisation
Digital media are ESSENTIAL

The four attending graffiti creators agreed to participate following their contact and invitation via Instagram. When introducing themselves, each conveyed their own, often close, relationship to the Donaukanal as well as their different levels of experience and exposure within Vienna’s wider graffiti scene. JANER ONE (active since 2012), for instance, took hope from doing graffiti in “tough times” and identified the Donaukanal as a really big playground—”it does not have many rules, and the few rules it has, you must pick up by yourself”—and a site of graffiti history. MANUEL SKIRL (active since 2006) meanwhile recounted how the openness and inclusiveness of the Donaukanal offered the chance to begin creating and, in time, to develop a personal style in “more artistic” directions. SERT (active since 2009) highlighted moving to Vienna partly to be close to the Donaukanal after growing up in a “pretty small village” in the countryside. SNUF’s (active since 2012) first piece was at the prestigious Donaukanal, the “best art gallery of the city with almost daily changing exhibitions”. Each of the four brought their personal, ‘inside’ perspectives to the discussion of the selected statements that is recorded in the following text. This text is not, however, a verbatim nor sequential account of that discussion. Firstly, although retaining the ‘feel’ of the discussion has been prioritised, the text has been edited for readability, and some superfluous content removed. Secondly, as is often the way with the most exploratory of dialogues, the main topic of conversation shifted quickly and regularly. Thus, although the six statements were originally detailed by Merrill (in his capacity as moderator) following a preamble at the start of the discussion round, in this text these statements (and their more detailed elaborations) have been chronologically redeployed to structure the text in a manner that might better serve the reader. The reordering of the transcription in this way means that in some places the text does not always flow consecutively in the way it did during the discussion. These places are indicated by […] and they do not only represent hops forward, but also hops backward in time.

Finally, it is essential to know that all authors—of which none was a minor—have read this text and confirmed in writing that they were fine with their statements. This agreement notwithstanding, one must understand that these statements were raised in a lively discussion and must also be understood and treated this way.

Author Biographies

Samuel Merrill

Samuel Merrill (°1984) is Docent and Associate Professor in Sociology at Umeå University’s Department of Sociology and Digital Social Research Centre in Northern Sweden. He has a Doctoral degree in Cultural Geography from University College London, UK (2010-2014); a Master degree in Heritage Studies from Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany (2007-2009); and a Bachelor degree in Ancient History and Archaeology from The University of Birmingham, UK (2003-2006). Amongst other topics, he researches the heritagisation and digitalisation of graffiti and street art and has published academic articles on these in journals, including International Journal of Heritage Studies, Time & Mind and Journal of Social Archaeology. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9572-5922.

Geert J. Verhoeven

Geert J. Verhoeven (°1978) is a senior researcher in archaeology at the LBI AchPro and is currently leading the academic graffiti project INDIGO. He received his Master’s and PhD degrees from Ghent University (Belgium) in 2002 and 2009, respectively. Since 2010, Geert has been working on many 3D modelling, remote sensing and data visualisation topics at the LBI AchPro, a research institute of which he is currently the vice director. In September 2021, Geert took a deep dive into the colourful graffiti world through project INDIGO. His research output can be found at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Geert-Verhoeven-2.

Benjamin Wild

Benjamin Wild (°1996) is a PhD student and university assistant at the Photogrammetry unit at the Department for Geodesy and Geoinformation at Technische Universität Wien (TU Wien). He received his Master’s degree from TU Wien in Geodesy and Geoinformation in 2021. Since then, he has been part of the graffiti-centred academic project INDIGO. Before investigating photogrammetric solutions in the context of graffiti research, Benjamin was working in the same department but in the field of environmental microwave remote sensing. What connects both experiences is the interest in understanding our environment better. Be it the amazon rainforest or the graffiti along Donaukanal. Benjamin’s research output can be found at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Benjamin-Wild-5.

Massimiliano Carloni

Massimiliano Carloni (°1990) is currently employed at the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage (Austrian Academy of Sciences) in Vienna. He completed his PhD in Classical Philology at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa (Italy) in 2019 with a thesis on ancient Greek literature. His primary research interest lies in exploring the use of semantic technologies and metadata standards to describe and render accessible vast collections of diverse materials. In particular, he is interested in graph-based data models and linked open data. This led him to join the academic graffiti project INDIGO in November 2021 and take up the challenge of developing technical solutions for the description and long-term digital preservation of the collected data. His research output can be found at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Massimiliano-Carloni.

Martin de la Iglesia

Martin de la Iglesia (°1982) is an art historian and librarian. He currently works at Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel (Germany) in the field of Digital Humanities. In 2007 he received his Master’s degree from Humboldt University of Berlin. He has recently completed his PhD in Art History at Heidelberg University, and his thesis on the early reception of manga in the West will be published soon. Martin’s main areas of interest as a researcher include comics, street art, and various other forms of contemporary art and popular culture. He blogs at https://650centplague.wordpress.com and maintains a website on stencil graffiti at http://graffiti.freiburg.bplaced.net.

Francisca Fernandez Merino

Francisca Fernández Merino (°1993) wrote and recently submitted her Master’s thesis about the audience’s response to and interpretation of political graffiti. She is particularly interested in shared patterns of political art expression in contentious episodes and street expressions as a means for the creation of cohesion and social space. She received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Santiago, Chile (2017) and is enrolled in the programme MA Development studies at the University of Passau. Her research interests include political sociology, contentious politics, social organisation, and public art expressions.

Ljiljana Radošević

Ljiljana Radošević (°1978) is a freelance art history researcher at the association Street Art Belgrade where she is working on developing Urban Heritage Hub project. She holds MA in art history (2005) from the University of Belgrade (Serbia) and MA in management in culture (2007) from the joint program of the University of Arts in Belgrade and the University of Grenoble (France). At the moment, she is in the final stages of finishing her PhD at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) under the title “Understanding Street Art; Street Art in the European Context”. She has been researching graffiti and street art since 2000 and is a curator of the first virtual reality exhibition about Belgrade graffiti and street art. For further information, visit https://streetartbelgrade.com.

Chiara Ricci

Chiara Ricci is a conservation scientist at the Centre for Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage “La Venaria Reale” (CCR). She currently also works as a laboratory technician at the University of Turin. She received a Master’s degree in Science for Cultural Heritage in 2012 and Material Science for Cultural Heritage in 2016. She earned a PhD in Protection of Cultural Heritage in collaboration with the University of Vigo, Spain. After graduation, she had internship experiences at the Getty Conservation Institute (Los Angeles, USA) and the Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España (Madrid, Spain). She carries out scientific investigations on several heritage materials with a multi-analytical approach. In recent years, she has been focusing on the issues of graffiti removal from ornamental stones and street art conservation, participating in the European project CAPuS. Her research output can be found at https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5358-1932.

Jona Schlegel

Jona Schlegel (°1988) is doing a PhD at the University of Vienna (Austria) on archaeological stratigraphy and spatio-temporal reasoning. Furthermore, she is employed as a junior researcher at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology. She received her Master of Science in Landscape Archaeology at the University of Applied Science and the Free University (Berlin, Germany) in 2018. Since 2017, she has been working with geophysical prospection methods like geomagnetics and ground-penetrating radar. Starting in September 2021, she is part of project INDIGO, focusing on the graffiti thesaurus, spatio-temporal data structuring and web development. Her research can be found at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jona-Schlegel

Stefan Wogrin

Stefan Wogrin (°1989) is an art historian and graffiti documenter. In 2001 he founded the “Spraycity “graffiti writing archive (https://spraycity.at), which is also an online platform where 100.000 graffiti photos are accessible online. The archive is based in Vienna. He received his Bachelor of Arts in art history and European ethnology from the University of Vienna in 2017. Since 2001 Stefan is also an active graffiti writer. Furthermore, he photographs graffiti from all different public surfaces in Vienna and the entire Europe. Since 2013, Stefan has also been researching the history of graffiti in Vienna, which is his main research interest. Stefan curated several exhibitions about graffiti, and he is the editor of the “Offline Graffiti Magazine “. The research Stefan is involved in can be found at https://spraycity.at/research.

How to Cite
Merrill, S., Verhoeven, G., Wild, B., ONE, J., SKIRL, M., ’, S., ’, S., Carloni, M., de la Iglesia, M., Merino, F., Radošević, L., Ricci, C., Schlegel, J., & Wogrin, S. (2023). ‘Different Folks, Different Strokes’: goINDIGO 2022’s «Creators vs Academics» Discussion Round. Document | Archive | Disseminate Graffiti-Scapes, 25 - 44. https://doi.org/10.48619/indigo.v0i0.701