98.000 BC - Now

The desire to mark one’s existence is a distinctly human pursuit. It serves two functions. One is to delineate boundaries and borders, an instinct no doubt leftover from our ancestors. But in the larger sense, it also is a statement against the march of time itself. “I was here. I existed.” This act of creating marks is as old as humanity. We have been making symbols on cave walls for over 100,000 years. As we ventured out, we continued this tradition, erecting stones and totems on which to track generational shift and define space. Even in the digital age, this tradition of marking physical structures endures.

This is not a study of graffiti, although graffiti is a part of it. Instead, this is a guide book for witnessing modern stelae, the interaction of a public with its municipal landscape through visual communication. Power junction boxes are an often overlooked feature of the metropolitan vista. And yet, standing quietly along roads and adjacent buildings, they serve the function that many ancient obelisks once did. They denote sites of power, literal and figurative, and become canvasses on which a community can converse. The names held by each hold the history of a small segment of the local populace. Even the arrangement of metal posts and concrete foundations hearkens back to the mystical arrangements of the original stones.

This document serves as a starting point to appreciating these locations for their graphic and spatial qualities. The writers are noted as accurately as possible and all marks and shapes are represented in a manner sensitive to their intention. But this looks at just one small section of one small city and there are hopes to expand. As understanding of this phenomenon grows, so too might the knowledge of some small part of the human condition.

A catalog of utility boxes and the areas they inhabit.