Concrete Names: Foundation Stone Mimicry evolving into Year of Birth ID

2012/12/09 § Leave a comment

Commuting home I cycle by a recently re-formed footpath near my home. It’s at a particularly steep little section and when tired I often push my bike up it. Doing so the other day I noticed the graffiti scratched into the then wet cement surface had captured a turning point, a shift in how we use dates, particularly the year, in relation to our names.


Foundation stones provide information about when a building or bridge is built. They may be more or less formal. The more grand and formal the building the more formal, and more informing to the reader, the foundation stone becomes. Particularly if someone very important lays a foundation stone at a ceremony. Like, say, the visiting Duke of Edinburgh, in Hobart, Tasmania in 1868.

(American usage dominates the web still, and wikipedia, so their term “cornerstone” is to be found online with the sense I am using “Foundation Stone”, while “Foundation Stone” is restricted in the USA usage to refer to a particular ethnic or religious site in the Middle East.)(God knows why.)

(And North American usage uses Sidewalk for Footpath while in Britain they just say Pavement.)

St David's Park Foundation Stone

St David’s Park Foundation Stone, Hobart, 1868

When people graffiti their name alongside a year, they often use the very year the graffiti is made, much like when a foundation stone is laid. I’d argue they are copying this formal ceremonial practice in a street style. Doing so, they are claiming the concrete in their own name, even though, like a foundation stone, the structure was actually someone else’s work. (No doubt the habit of painting the road on New Year’s Eve with the new year’s year supports this practice.)

Graffiti as if a foundation stone

Above you can see the name scrawlers SAPPHIRE, TYLAR, COREY & CRYStAL, have used the traditional Foundation Stone approach claiming the concrete as their work in 2012. (It is possible they are all by he same hand.) Right next to it on the same concrete pour is the following.

Concrete graffiti where the year is the year of birth and helps identify the person signing.

This SLiPKNOT Matt has not used the year of the concrete’s pour, but, most likely, the year of their birth, 2001. This follows the recent habit of distinguishing, somewhat, an email username or internet handle by year of birth from all the other Matts, all the other SLiPKNOT Matts, or, at least, from those born in other years. Otherwise you are just and this works against the very idea of naming at all.

So this is a transitional piece and in the years to come the foundational style of scrawling one’s name in freshly poured concrete will fade away. It will just be an opportunity tag, and not a foundational, or cornerstone, mimicry.


Google Streetview (in Jan 2016) still doesn’t have the now 3 year old concrete. (Down to the right a bit, off screen.)

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