Thursday, September 26, 2013

Local Color: Utility Box Graffiti

As in all urban areas there is graffiti.  I worked in South Central Los Angeles as a young(ish) man.  I was blown away by the amount of graffiti.  The graffiti, which was everywhere, was basically only two colors, Red (signifying the Bloods) and blue (the Crips).  There were gang names or tags of color everywhere.

It wasn't the kind of wall art that we've seen in movies and on the sides of subway trains.  It was just messy, territory marking.  As I worked there, I would look at what color the graffiti was and choose a tie accordingly. 

Taiwan, though, is interesting.  I can’t remember a single instance of that type of graffiti here.  I’m sure there must be some of this somewhere but I've never seen it.  There is graffiti here, but it isn't what I’m used to.

Public utilities in Taiwan, like public utilities everywhere have sidewalk boxes.  For telephone companies these boxes are switching boxes.  They’re the place where the phone installer ties the wires from your phone to the phone company equipment.  In the case of electrical companies they have big sidewalk boxes, too.  I have no idea what they’re for.  Electricity as far as I can tell is magic, so I don’t know what is in those boxes.  I’m sure it is some sorcerer’s tools or something.

You don’t see that in a blog very often:  A blogger actually highlighting his own ignorance.  I just know that when I plug something into the socket electricity comes out.  When I unplug it the electricity stays in, just the opposite of a champagne bottle.

So much for that, back to the sidewalk boxes.  When the company installs them they are sort of a light gray, like they must have gotten some deal on that color.  Then they take a stencil and stencil the power company or phone company logo and a number on it. 

Because of the color and the flat sides they are just graffiti magnets.  You see graffiti all over these things.  The interesting part is no one ever complains.  The utility companies don’t spend a cent on cleaning them and I’ve even seen people standing there admiring them.  Here’s Why:

Photo Credits:
L. A. Gang Graffiti:
All other photos Ken Jiang and Chris Banducci

Editor's Note:  Most of these boxes are found in Taipei, with the exception of the last photo.  That box is in Taoyuan City.

Other posts you may be interested in:

Local Color:  The Colors of Yingge 
Local Color:  A Winter Trip to Danshui
Local Color:  The Taoyuan City Ghost Festival Parade