Archive for the ‘facets’ Category

Facets of Street Art: Experiment from Portland*   no comments

Posted at 12:09 am in facets,metadata

1.0 Portland Oregon: Thriving, Sacred, Weird

Portland Oregon is thriving city in the US Pacific Northwest. Situated at the intersection of the Columbia and Willamette rivers, Portland is a gateway to the Columbia Gorge to the east, to the Willamette Valley to the south, and to the Pacific Ocean and thus to Western North America, and Asia, to the west. Settled centuries ago by the Multnomah and Clackamas bands of the Chinook peoples and thus celebrated as a holy space at the foot of Mount Hood, the area was one of the most highly populated parts of the Pacific Northwest for centuries before the arrival of European settlers in the 1840s. Today’s Portland evolved from settlements at the end of the notorious Oregon Trail from about 1840 onward. Known as a “gritty” city from the beginning, in the late 20th century Portland began to be associated with liberal, progressive and countercultural points of view (,_Oregon ). The city’s unofficial motto, enthusiastically embraced across the region, is “Keep Portland Weird” ( ).

2.0 Some Portland Street Art

Portland is home to an incredibly vibrant street art scene.

Since 2020, Graf has discussed the mixing of elements of graffiti and street art in Portland, noting that “it is not that graffiti artworks are not documented, but rather that they are documented in organic, local ways and end up distributed across the internet without seeming rhyme or reason (5),” but that there is discoverable commonality in these ad hoc forms of documentation. Graf’s groundbreaking research (2018) used open-coding to extract  “ad-hoc” terms from 241 websites featuring street art and graffiti art documentation. A summary of facets extracted from that work appear in Graf (2020a). By viewing the facets as a set of arrays we can see the emergence of a faceted knowledge organization system (KOS) for street art and graffiti, extracted from the communities that create and curate them.

In an essay for IKOS about Portland street, Graf (2020b, 6-7) commented on a “mural” at Portland’s Produce Row, on some “throwies,” such as those on “CEAD and ROZE,” across the way from Produce Row and on a nearby set of “pieces.” In 2021 (“Documenting” 2021, 17-18) Graf was quoted as describing “Attitude of Gratitude,” a work of street art on the headquarters of the SolTerra corporation as “street art with some elements of green or environmental art” in which the figure’s hair is made of living plants. The origins of the mural are described in Gallivan (2018).

All of the art noted above is all found in the Southeast quadrant of Portland. In Northeast Portland, at the intersection of Broadway and Grand Avenues, is a mural “Hope is Vital” developed in 2007 as part of the sister city relationship between Portland and Mutare, Zimbabwe (Weinstein 2018). The artist is Heidi Schultz (Public Art Archive 2024):

This mural’s purpose is to create global solidarity and educate the Portland community about Portland’s sister city, Mutare, Zimbabwe, and humanitarian efforts there. Underneath the inspiring message, “Hope is Vital,” the sun shines on a yellow medical clinic Portland helped build for its sister city. In a show of support, persons from both Portland and Mutare hold hands, dance, and drum to celebrate life, above the text “it takes a planet to save a village.

The mural is “signed” by the Portland Oregon-Mutare Zimbabwe Sister City Association, which was created in 1991 (Portland Sister Cities Coalition 2024).

3.0 Testing the Facets

One good place to begin a research project is at a qualitative point of reference. Given the complexity of the issue of street art and graffiti knowledge organization, it makes some sense for us to begin by simply applying Graf’s facets to the street art we have here as a set of case studies. We used standard metadata practice, which is to say we assigned terms only as they appeared either in Graf’s descriptions or in online documentation. Here in tabular form as examples are metadate for Red Wall and Hope is Vital.

4.0 Toward a Typology

To be clear we must understand that Graf’s facets were created as part of descriptive research to identify observed aspects of street art and graffiti. That is, she did not present them as a form of knowledge organization system. In our test, then, we have discovered that the system is a kind of typology, in which “types” are identified and categories are not mutually exclusive. Thus we may have more than one term (or type) from any given facet in a specific string.

Here two of five cases are demonstrated. All are well documented using the facets derived from Graf’s research. We might consider that a set of indexable facet indicators might be employed to turn the descriptions into searchable strings. It is worth noting that the Graf typology is a phenomenon-based system, and thus amenable to its own “grammar” for combining terms in a faceted sequence (Gnoli, Smiraglia and Szostak 2024).

Graf (2018) points out the wide variety of hashtags and other ad hoc forms of indexing that already are employed in the street art community. By embracing a formal descriptive logic generated from the phenomena of study a street art typology can clearly be employed as one approach to a formal knowledge organization system.


“Documenting Street Art in Portland: ‘Attitude of Gratitude.’” 2021. IKOS Bulletin 3, no. 1: 17-28.

Gallivan, Joe. 2018. “Attitude of Gratitude.” Website.

Gnoli, Claudio,  Richard P. Smiraglia and Rick Szostak. 2024. “Phenomenon-based classification: An Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST) paper.” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 75, no. 3: 324–343.

Graf, Ann M. 2018. “Facets of Graffiti Art and Street Art Documentation Online: A DOMain and Content Analysis.” PhD diss. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Graf, Ann M. 2020a. “Domain Analysis Applied to Online Graffiti Art Image Galleries to Reveal Knowledge Organization Structures Used Within an Outsider Art Community.” Knowledge Organization 47, no. 7: 543-557.  DOI:10.5771/0943-7444-2020-7-543.

Graf, Ann M. 2020b. “Documenting Graffiti Art Works: IKOS Views Portland.” IKOS Bulletin 2, no. 1: 5-8.

Portland Sister Cities Coalition. 2024. Website.

Public Art Archive. 2024. “Hope is Vital.” Website.

Weinstein, Alexandra. 2018. “Hope is Vital” Website. Elliot neighborhood.

*Extracted from: Smiraglia, Richard P. 2023. “Facets of Street Art: A Qualitative Experiment in Documenting Portland Street Art.” 2023. IKOS Bulletin 5, no.3 : 129-41.

Written by admin on March 7th, 2024

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Noesis revisited   no comments

Posted at 8:37 pm in facets,phenomenology

IMG_0158 - Version 2Here is a sign I saw recently. It was in a public space and in a country where I had never visited before, but then again it was in a university hall, so I can’t really say that I was so culturally shocked that I didn’t comprehend it. Still, I took it’s picture, didn’t I?

I had a lot of contemplative time that day because I didn’t really speak the language in which most of the discussion was taking place, so although I could read the slides people were showing and sort of follow along, I also had time to let my mind drift. I looked at this set of images, and I laughed a bit to myself and resolved to take a picture when the next break came along. Then I got to thinking about Otto von Neurath and his attempt to use visualization to advance human communication, in particular to use images as a sort of universal language. One supposes it is from that impulse that we get the confusing array of icons on the dashboards of new automobiles today. The point is that even simple images, like those shown here, can be confusing.

That brings me back always to phenomenology and the notion of noesis, that humans perceive through ego acts, or, to try to put it more simply, we see new things always through a lens of those things we have experienced in our past. The reason I laughed (not quite out loud) when I looked up at this sign was that I read in my head “no cigarettes, no radios, and no hamburgers.” Well, why not? The cigarette is clear enough I suppose. But to my unfocused gaze that image in the middle looks like the kind of radio we all had when I was a teenager. You’d set it in the sand near your ear so you could listen to it but it wouldn’t bother the other people on the beach, the sound of the surf providing useful cover. And if that isn’t a hamburger on the right I don’t know what it is! Ok, with a large soda, but obviously no fries. Maybe this means “no carnivores”?

Well that’s the majority of my point I think, that we simply cannot take a simple notion of “concept” seriously as a concrete entity because there just is no such thing. All concepts, no matter how simple, are perceived along a zillion personal continua. Knowledge organizations can provide frameworks but precision will always escape us.

Which is why we need to move to faceted systems–not categorized systems, but true facets–that embrace contexts, because it is the contexts that mediate individual perceptions. A faceted KOS that permitted contextual entry first and conceptual second would allow users to gauge the parameters of noeitic mediation involved in a given search, or in a given set of assigned semantic concepts. Just for fun, here is the uncropped image. I admiIMG_0158t it isn’t the best example; still it shows a column, in fact the top of a column in an industrial strucutre with cinderblock walls and an airduct there on the ceiling–that makes it relatively clear this is some sort of public space, like a classroom, and that also makes it a bit more clear why those certain things are prohibited.

I know now that thing in the middle is a mobile phone, because they don’t want people chattering. The sandwich and drink on the right probably mean “no eating or drinking” (see, I did get it, after considering the context). Still, it would be more useful to show someone with a full mouth I think and that hash mark across it.

This was in Rio de Janeiro, by the way, at the recent ISKO Brazil conference held at Fundação Getulio Vargas: Portal FGV.

Written by lazykoblog on July 14th, 2013

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More Otlet … a lot more!   no comments

Posted at 6:03 pm in facets,interdisciplinarity,KO

It was recently my great honor to participate as an examiner in defense of a new Ph.D. dissertation by Wouter Van Acker, at the University of Ghent in Belgium. Interestingly enough, the dissertation was produced in the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. The title of the work is Universalism as Utopia: A Historical Study of the Schemes and Schemas of Paul Otlet (1868-1944).

I want to draw attention to the work in a couple of ways. First, I think the dissertation is not to be made public through deposit, so we should make all conscious efforts to urge the author to publish the work. It is an immense synthesis of Otlet’s career, and includes many illustrations from his papers at the Mundaneum and elsewhere. There is immense value in both the compilation and the sensitive synthesis. So, keep an eye peeled for dissemination of this work. I won’t even attempt to review the work here, but I do want to draw attention to it.

I was interested as a participant to see how wide-ranging a discussion we had about the disciplinary roots of this research. Of course, many of Otlet’s “schemes and schemas” were systems for knowledge organization. As I read the dissertation, and as I pondered how to participate in the conversation, I kept reminding myself that the document was not produced in an iSchool division of knowledge organization, because it might well have been. Certainly much of the work of Otlet, even that explicitly directed at the founding of a world-city, was essentially an extension of knowledge organization. What I take, then, from the conversation, is a renewed sense of the critical importance of knowledge organization as substrate for everything else.

I also was quite specifically interested in the physical specifications of space for knowledge repositories. That is, Otlet’s ideas about how to organize everything, from a seaside resort to a movable museum, reflected a sense of the human in the physical space surrounded by knowledge, and thus the organization of the knowledge was more than just an abstraction, it was also structure in which human activity could take place. That was a pretty common idea, I think, at the turn of the 20th century. We see it in Martel’s 7 Points for the Library of Congress Classification, for instance. And there are many other examples of classifications designed to fit specific physical spaces. KOS as architecture, literally, in other words. I think there is a fascinating set of historical hypotheses in there somewhere.

Questions also arose about the UDC, and based on my work with the Knowledge Space Lab (tracing the growth and evolution of the UDC over time;, I found myself wondering about dimensionality and facets. That is, if faceted KOS have the possibility of facilitating multidimensional knowledge representation, and I’m certain they do, then why do we get the usual list of suspects in the UDC (space, time, language, and so forth). I think my question is too ill-formed as of yet, so I’ll have to beg your indulgence while I ponder what it is I really mean to say here. My colleague Charles van den Heuvel suggested the mutildimensionality was there, not in the specific elements of the facets but rather in their potential for multiple combination. We’ll see where this leads us.

Perhaps on a more humorous note, I was quite impressed with the process. There were two defenses (2!), one private and one public. The public defense was quite formal, and I might add I enjoyed it immensely. Here are some photos of the event:

Finally (for now), congratulations to Wouter Van Acker for a brilliant defense of a magnificent piece of research.

Written by lazykoblog on November 29th, 2011

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