Graffiti, Street Art and Stigmergy

Lachlan MacDowall’s chapter in The Uses of Art in Public Space.

The chapter explores how graffiti and street art function in public space by considering their relationship to the notion of stigmergy, a theory derived from insect behaviour that explains how the actions of individual agents within populations are coordinated without direct communication. The application of stigmergy highlights a number of neglected aspects of street art, namely its spatial clustering, its incitement of interactions, the active audiences it produces and its existence as a ‘cultural scene,’ based not on fixed art objects but on forms which elicit ongoing, collective contributions.