Grandinetti’s Graffiti Connects New York

Published April 24, 2012

ABOVE: THE CNNCTD+ SOUND GRAFITTI MURAL ON KENMARE STREET, DESIGNED BY JASON WOODSIDE.

Last Friday, a carefully packaged white circular, plexiglas badge arrived at the Interview offices. An accompanying note explained that the button was in fact an MP3 player (or “playbutton”), part of a series of 100 buttons on which famous creative New Yorkers, and a few New York institutions, have recorded . . . pretty much whatever they wanted to record. Several of these buttons are dotted across the lower Manhattan, including one “talking mural” on Kenmare Street between the Bowery and Elizabeth, inviting passerbys to plug in their headphones and listen to the city.

The project, called CNNCTD+100, was devised by Roman Grandinetti (aka DJ Manero) as a sort of “sound graffiti.” “I [was] getting very antsy with just DJing and needed something new” Grandinetti told Interview. “I started thinking of interesting ways to use the button outside of the way it was directed. I have been into graffiti for years and thought of using the button as a sticker—placing it anywhere [so that] people can then get something from the location.” Grandinetti recruited participants such as Narciso Rodriguez, Cindy Sherman, Bill Powers, Pharrell Williams, the good people at Katz’s delicatessen, and The Meatball Shop. “I gave everyone free range. I really wanted them to put something on the button that not everyone would know about them,” Grandinetti explained. Whose was the first name to pop into Grandinetti’s head? “I don’t think there was one focus, we immediately came up with a list of 250 people, the names just started coming out overnight…”

The aim of the project, aside from entertaining Interview on any given afternoon, is to emphasize the “interdisciplinary” nature of  the arts, and perhaps revitalize stale-seeming mediums such as graffiti. Once an aggressive and subversive re-appropriation of public spaces—the impact of graffiti has diminished greatly over the last 10 years. What is shocking about a Banksy mural or innovative about Stephen Sprouse style clothing? Grandinetti’s “sound-stations,” provide a way of re-engaging city dwellers with the spaces they inhabit, the idea of the city as a canvas. Like Basquiat and the D train, Grandinetti chose the areas “where I find myself most often” to plaster his MP3 players.

CNNCTD+100 will debut at the New Museum tomorrow. All 100 buttons, with custom covers designed by each of the participants, will be on display. The project will then move to London, Miami, Paris and Tokyo. “We’re thinking of adding 10 buttons per stop to keep it growing,” Grandinetti told us.

CNNCTD+100 LAUNCHES 7PM, MAY 1ST AT THE NEW MUSEUM STORE IN NEW YORK.