Interview: Momo

Austrian artist Momo’s project are a reflection of Urban Arts’ current zeitgeist, where the analogue often time meets with the digital. Having spent time creating digital images such as vector animations and later immersing himself in creating analogue images like graffiti. Momo’s interest expanded as evident in the forming of the Drawvolution collective, a culmination of his interest in both digital and urban arts. The crew is known for developing multimedia projects where experimental real time video and performance installations see light of day (and night). being something of a tech head, Momo is also the founder of graffiti analysis – a project in which the motions of graffiti making is archived, analysed, and shared in an open database, ahead of his return to KL for INVSN Fringe Festival, JUICE caught up with Momo and associate Cee to find out more on multimedia graffiti.

What is Drawvolution?
Momo Drawvolution is my network, working with different types of artists – from graphic designers, graffiti artists, skateboarders, movie makers, internet designers, to musicians.

So what do you do with all these creative people?
Cee Get them drunk.
Momo We actually just draw on everything. The medium we mostly use is video and we combine music and moving images and photos.

So you are a VJ?
Momo We also do VJ installations, paintings, computer, iPod shows…

Can you tell us about your VJ gigs?
Momo We specialise in doing more mobile VJ shows. So we are using our iPod to throw out images during shows. We are jumping around and drawing on the iPods and mixing it with live video cameras and the iPod Touch. We also paint the people, we go into the crowds and paint on their skin. These are the shows we specialise in.

Oh that sounds risqué…
Momo Yes, we like it dirty.

How did Drawvolution start?
Momo It started out of the interest of documenting graffiti, because it will not last long. So somehow you have to document it. So we get videos and photographs.

So did you start out as graffiti artists?
Momo Yes, we all have graffiti art background.
Cee Actually when I was in Vienna, I never went out to paint, only when Momo told me, “you should just come with us, we’re just gonna paint.” And he really got me hooked on painting outside.

What’s the difference between a vandal and graffiti artist?
Momo For me graffiti is illegal.

So we could throw paint on a stop sign and be a graffiti artist?
Momo As long as you do it with passion and you keep on doing it. Only doing it once doesn’t count.
Cee If you think about it, out there, there are so many images of brands and so much visual noise. So why not go into public space saying “this is me.” Even if we all do it, it gets kinda dirty, yeah? But you should also go for it.
Momo Graffiti always has something rebellious about it, which is why it’s illegal. You are invading space and property. But we take the freedom to go out and make the city more colourful.

Moving on to GraffitiAnalysis and Drawvolution, you said you want to document and categorise all graffiti art, um why?
Cee Yeah, he’s a hoarder. Momo always says that’s always the male trait – we’re collectors, hoarders and hunters. That’s mankind.
Momo I fell in love with graffiti analysis. We live in a digitalised world with the internet and iPhone. And everyone has Facebook, so digital life is very present. But on the other side, in Drawvolution we love to have the paint on our skin, get dirty and move around the city, it’s kinda like analogue in a way. Graffiti analysis just combines both. You still have analogue tagging, but afterwards, you have the digitalised version of it – combing everything with moving images so you can use it as visual installation or make it bounce to the music. It just connects everything.

What do you think of the graffiti landscape in KL?
Cee It’s very poor but there’s talent for sure. But no one occupies the city. There are little spots here and there. There’s talent but I don’t think it’s very present.
Momo In comparison to Europe, it’s very different. I mean in Europe, people will paint murals on walls but you wouldn’t actually be called a graffiti artist unless you make illegal stuff.

So part of being a graffiti artist is being illegal?
Momo Yes. For me, painting a wall is mural art, it’s really different. In graffiti art you have this rush. You have to be careful not to get caught and you’re always moving and going to places you shouldn’t be like tunnels, subways, hangers. And murals are something completely different. You can take lots of time and concentrate on your painting so it’s a different attitude. And it creates a different kinda feel. Graffiti is an attitude, you live it or you don’t.

Where do you think is the best place to go to find good graffiti?
Momo The craziest ones are in Germany.
Cee Yeah. Berlin, it’s full. It’s just covered in graffiti.
Momo The subways, the streets, it’s just everywhere.
Cee Also I went to Tokyo and I could name so many artists and be like oh man he was also here. You know your people and see how they travel.

Kinda like one of the most notorious graffiti artists, Banksy.
Cee Yeah, he left pieces in Vienna, and people were excited. It was like the Banksy corner.

So graffiti art has been more accepted in the last 10 years. Where do you the see future?
Momo For me I can only say that it’s the art of our generation. If you see street art, it’s getting popular because it’s us and the art movement that I can relate to because it was born in our youth culture so I have a connection to it. The future is an urban art movement just exploding. Even in the last 7 years, it’s everywhere. Not just graffiti but different mediums.

What do you think is the digital equivalent of graffiti art? Trolling?
Momo Hacking. I’ve now installed a program on Facebook so I don’t have to see ads anymore. So these little features and the open source documents, it’s like graffiti, everyone can see and use it.  Anyone can buy a spray can and use it which is like open source, everyone can use it and spread it.

If you have any words of advice to budding graffiti artists in KL what would it be?
Cee Danger.
Momo Push it as hard as you can.

Momo was down in KLumpur for the INVSN Fringe Festival on the 11 to 17 September. Find out more about Graffiti Analysis at Keep up with Drawvolution at