Decoding Symbology: The Work of EKG
Omnipresent and yet simultaneously aloof, the mysterious persona that is EKG lurks around the twists and turns of most neighborhoods. Behind the shadows of each night, the artist’s anonymous nature transforms their tag into a symbol of the city rather than put a face to the association. In a zine-published essay, the artist refers to their purpose as:
this intention, contained in and transmitted from the core of all illegal public aesthetic manifestations, inherently questions the dominant system, challenging all structure and control, like this textual space in relation to this context, hacked spliced re-channeled onto a rebellious literary trajectory in order to create a theoretical and philosophical construction, a concrete metaphor representing its content, a pyre of signs fuming, a crystal ball snow globe sparkling boiling and churning, a television channel of blinking flowing static that makes sense as language on some alternate perceptual level…
Layered in meaning, this stream of consciousness writing reflects the trajectory of the artist’s gallery pieces. Shaded grids, pulses, and dozens of scrawling hieroglyphics build up to a composition that is as complicated as EKG’s thought process. The leading image for the artist’s Spectrum installation attempts to decode these symbols for viewers that do not think in scientific codes, as the artist does. Rows of simple pencil inscriptions on graph paper make an orderly and easily digestible dictionary as categorized functions, accents, and other coded content are assembled accompanied by explanations similar to those found in scientific diagrams. By breaking these images down into categories EKG gives viewers insight into the thought process behind the complexities of the supplementary images.
Beyond this initial monochrome theoretical chart, what appears are a series of heartbeats intermingling with chemical equations. Compounds of hydrogen and carbon are forced together in what would actually equate to an unstable compound. The volatile nature of these elements echoes the unsteady hand that leant them creation; upon closer inspection, imperfection lies behind a seemingly methodical means of creation. While each sharp turn of EKG’s tag may appear uniform, further viewing reveals that the proximity of each line varies as does several other components, such as length and ferocity.
It is in these glitches within a seemingly ordered reality that the personality of EKG begins to surface. Each image transforms from its prescribed meaning on the artist’s scientifically defined chart to a more codified meaning, a representation of the hand behind its creator. The artist elaborates on the resonance behind their symbology as “the passion drive output strategy and remnants of an artist’s street actions schematize, render and broadcast a portrait of the artist’s identity and personality.” As with the periodic elements and cardiac ticks of their mixed media paper works, the narrative created within these quotations joins with EKG’s ever-present mark to utilize impulsivity to expound on something larger than the public or the artist themselves—the implementation of a universal symbol.
This essay is part of an ongoing series that examines the work of New York’s graffuturist movement, which combines the aerosol and typographical background of graffiti with abstraction to form a unified style within the urban art aesthetic.
To commemorate the “Spectrum” exhibition opening at Gallery Brooklyn, which features New York’s abstract graffiti practitioners, ArtSlant Street has conducted a series of interviews and studio visits with the artists represented: Col Wallnuts, EKG, Hellbent, Rubin, and See One. “Spectrum” opens to the public Saturday July 27th from 6pm-9pm and runs through August 17th.