Graffiti has been a part of military life for at least 5,000 years

War is a thing of terror, traditions, heartache and often, boredom. Passing the time between patrols, and the banality that comes from life in the field, is a constant challenge. Some people read. Most exercise. Everyone complains about the food. Soldiers write, train and call home--if there's someone there that'll pick up the phone. Video games? Totally a thing, in some instances. If you have a Sharpie, or a knife, there's a good chance that you might wind up doodling, scratching or scrawling something, at one point or another, to prove that you were there, where ever ‘there’ might be.

Jonathan Bratt, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and a current company commander in the National Guard, put together a great read on the history of military graffiti for The New York Times. Starting with 5,000-year old cave paintings and navigating conflicts across the span of history, Bratten touches on the artwork and vandalization that soldiers, living in Death’s shadow, undertook to cure themselves of boredom and, in some cases, serve as proof of their existence.

From the New York Times Magazine:

World War II brought U.S. troops to Europe by the millions, and this time they were accompanied by a friend: Kilroy. Kilroy was a mysterious phantom, asserting his presence in the scrawled phrase “Kilroy was here,” often accompanied by a cartoon doodle of a bald head just peeking over a wall, nose and fingers visible. And Kilroy was everywhere. Troops claimed that when they’d storm a beach or take a village, they’d somehow find that Kilroy had gotten there before them.

Read the rest

Street artist KAWS at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Street artist KAWS, aka Brian Donnelly, 38, reached a milestone this year: his "Companion" character was a float in the 2012 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Interview with creator of Occupy Wall Street "bat-signal" projections during Brooklyn Bridge #N17 march

REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Earlier this evening, tens of thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched throughout New York City, many making their way on to the Brooklyn Bridge, carrying LED candles and chanting. As Occupiers took the bridge in a seemingly endless sea of people, words in light appeared projected on the iconic Verizon Building nearby:

"99% / MIC CHECK! / LOOK AROUND / YOU ARE A PART / OF A GLOBAL UPRISING / WE ARE A CRY / FROM THE HEART / OF THE WORLD / WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE / ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE / HAPPY BIRTHDAY / #OCCUPY MOVEMENT / OCCUPY WALL STREET / list of cities, states and countries / OCCUPY EARTH / WE ARE WINNING / IT IS THE BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING / DO NOT BE AFRAID / LOVE."

A few hours later I spoke with Mark Read, who organized the "bat-signal" project. He tells Boing Boing why and how he did this, and what technology he used.

XJ: How did this come together?

Mark Read: It came up at an action coordination meeting. We were talking about what to do on the 17th. We had a sense that the morning on Wall Street would be forceful and confrontational, and we wanted to not do the same kind of thing in the afternoon. Initial talks focused on having a thousand people taking the bridge in the afternoon, and continuing in a militant mode of activism. But we started thinking about creating a more unifying moment. Read the rest