From INSA's augmented reality GIF-iti app, to the chroma key graffiti of TURISTA, to even the surprisingly Shrek-filled online graffiti labyrinth of Zetamaze, artists have been hard at work over the past few years adapting the graffiti mentality to the digital world. With FB Graffiti, programmer Joel Simon has applied that same appetite for creative destruction to the largest social media platform in the history of the internet.
The Chrome plug-in turns photo albums and Facebook posts into a canvas ripe for the defacing. Downloading it lets any would-be virtual graffiti artist draw Snapchat-style doodles on top pictures that gets posted to Facebook, which are then visible to other people with the app. "I wanted to find an interesting way to augment and/or subvert the Facebook experience," Simon told The Creators Project. "I went through a lot of really shitty ideas (generating 3D worlds, etc.) before deciding on extending the basic, original metaphor of Facebook: walls."
Seeking to capture the "vulnerable and gritty" qualities of IRL walls on the "clean and polished" internet ones, Simon called upon the public at large to trash Facebook with augmented tags. The public has since answered his call, but rather than the grimy spray paint and territorial claims he was expecting, users have skewed towards artistic photo edits and pop culture references, isolating a single weird face from one of President Obama's speeches, and outfitting a person in full-on Super Saiyan garb.
The plug-in currently only runs on Google Chrome, but Simon is hoping to expand it's functionality in a number of ways: first on his wish list is a function inspired by the New York Public Library's Google Maps experiment that would let users people peel back layers of a repeatedly painted wall. FB Graffiti illustrations often build off one another, and he thinks it would be fascinating to see that progression. "For example, someone graffitied the Facebook logo, swapping the F for a penis. Someone else came along and turned it into a church, which then became a Michael Jackson memorial. Finally, someone added people walking into the base of the church," Simon explained. He's also in pursuit of a way to make the digital graffiti more accessible, since people can only find the tags by going directly to the post's URL.
If this digital vandalism seems like it might irk Mark Zuckerburg and his friends list, Simon isn't worried too worried: "I don’t expect any backlash," he says. "There are certainly other extensions that modify Facebook." Still, he's interested in what might happen should Facebook try to stop FB Graffiti: "I don’t believe there is anything they can do, so it might even be fun to see them try."
Below find some examples of Facebook Graffiti, selected by the artist.
Download the plug-in here to tag Facebooks digital walls yourself.