Cleveland Uber Alles

Untimely Dispatches from the Neighborhood of the Unrepresented & Inarticulate; Anecdotes that Pedal and Coast Through the Boot-Print of 20th Century American Urbanism

Monday, September 26, 2005

Who is SYM? All Hail SYM. Sometimes, his tag is blocky and compressed, as if to contain each letter's energy: S-Y-M, with garrish, overdone shade under, for would-be perspective; othertimes, its a candy-wrapper colored, snakey bubbled, almost as if it would sell you something; still other times, its simple, casual, quick sharpie strokes, like a teacher's correction marks, or bureaucratic scribble, on the back of street sign: SYM. No one is as prolific, by my estimation; no one as fearless, leaving his art at heights and depths, where the danger of position or danger of prosecution is quite so threatening. He's been name-checked in a free weeky, mentioned in the comments section of a site that carries photos of some of the best graffiti along the Cuyohoga River, but as of yet the hardest working tagger (or tagger identity?) in Cleveland has yet to have his (or her?) work publicized beyond its silent, mocking function. This could be because SYM doesn't seem to bother with striking visuals like this one from Instead, he sticks to language alone, either his tag and occasionally his tag and the word "droids." If you note that SimCity, from which SYM might derive his name, involves the player taking on an imaginary mayorial role, building schools, police stations, etc, over vacant lots, areas of urban decay, etc., and believe then that SYM has appropriated this idea for his tag, then the tag SYM itself takes on quite a wonderfully complex decidedly "post-modern" meaning. Superimposed, say, on the back of a speed limit sign, it's a double entandre: not only is it SYM's mark, but an assertion that the city's itself is, well, less than real, if not a simulation. With each tag, SYM marks the city as a kind of collective hallucination, more or less real, depending upon where you stand, and he calls to question who builds the city, making it what it is--who makes its destiny, monied interests or the people? In some of the neighborhoods where SYM's tag is prominent, calling the city a simulation might just be a call to escape, a "don't worry, all of this isn't real, and if it is it will pass soon enough." In others places, the tag, like the one that hovers above the westbound lanes of Chester Avenue, somewhere in the E. 50's and 40's, on the back of a billboard for Detroit "casino-resorts, " it's a taunt. SYM droids, it says--that's all all of you are, you all, simulations of life, mindless at the wheel, unable, too, I think, to see out the power windows, where the projects at E. 55th, stand in more time paralyzed. Cleveland Uber Alles is collecting sightings of SYM's tag, with the hopes of photographing it and assembling on on-line gallery show. Leave any information you might have in the coment section.


At 10:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know Sym.... we're both scared.
You need more to do.


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