It is well understood the enactment of literacy skills serve a fundamental social and epistemic function, allowing us on individual and collective levels to understand and communicate information.
What makes graffiti and street arts culture's relationship to literacy so special, is that there are no formal, institutionalised rules dictating how those engaged in these phenomena read and most importantly, write. There exists an aesthetic and semantic freedom where artists are able to miss-spell, rearrange, and erase letters and symbols at will. These (often encrypted) lettering and symbol systems establish a parallel urban geography and consequent sign disorder.
Through this informal dialogue with urban surfaces acting as our communication network, we as viewers or creators are provided unique opportunities to interpret and interact with the world around us. In this way, graffiti and street artists are continuously exploring and recontextualising the formal, Westernised notion of literacy.
Part of my work as a researcher and arts worker is using Action Research methods to tap into the playfulness and spirit of experimentation held in graffiti and street arts expression. I believe this presents interesting creative possibilities and alternative pedagogic potential, particularly for those who may have difficulty engaging with mainstream education channels.