Posted on Monday, February 3rd, 2014 by Will Hagle
Graffiti General is a virtual online tour of Magasins Généraux, a deserted building that became an icon in the graffiti community after it was abandoned in 2000.
Magasins Généraux is located in Pantin, an area of Paris located adjacent to the Ourcq Canal. The building was originally commissioned by the French Chamber of Commerce as a processing center for custom-free goods. It was ultimately shut down in 2000, and the years that followed saw the building become a prominent destination for graffiti artists. Throughout the next several years, the building became covered in graffiti by a wide variety of artists. In 2016, however, the building is scheduled to be occupied by advertising agency BETC. In order to preserve the building’s history as a graffiti landmark, BETC photographed the entire building and translated it to a virtual 3D model, which can be explored via the Graffiti General website. The creation of the Graffiti General site is a smart move by the advertising agency, as it is honoring and conserving the building’s graffiti history rather than being adversarial against the street artists that have left their designs on its walls. Whether or not the street artists agree with the ad agencies decision to photograph their work is unclear, but the website that they have created is extremely awesome.
Graffiti General includes an interactive map of all six floors of the Magasins Généraux building, and you can explore the entire building as if you were actually walking around in it. The experience is similar to that of Google Street View, although it’s much easier to move around in various directions. Because the building is entirely unoccupied, the only thing to see is the graffiti art on the walls. Still, there are some powerful creations to be discovered. The work that decorates the building’s walls ranges from the quickly scribbled names of taggers to more elaborately designed pieces. Both have their place in the graffiti world, and both can be discovered within the building. The site also has a built-in tool that allows users to design their own virtual graffiti to be displayed on the wall. Although the building is soon to be occupied by an advertising company, Graffiti General is a great honor to the function the building has served for the past several years.