The Australian artist Buff Diss has created a unique brand of art, eschewing the use of paint to work solely through the medium of tape. Whilst his polished, dexterous designs can be appreciated in and of themselves however, it is the manner in which they combine with their architectural surround that propels them onto a more thoughtful, more distinctive terrain, the clean images confronting their often defaced, dirt-engrained surrounds in an unexpectedly congruous manner. Using the environment of the city not as a blank canvas but as a living expanse then, a site with a deep history embedded within it, Buff Diss aims to develop a “relationship with space”, a “conversation with the architecture”, taking pleasure in forming a materially tactile intervention with his surround.
Initially using spray-paint to work in the streets, Buff Diss began to use tape in 2005. Whilst he still considers himself to have a “graffiti mentality”, what this illicit form of production gave him was a particular way of seeing the city, a particular mode of relating to the environment which once initiated, could never be revoked: “Graffiti artists are blessed, they get to see under the skin of the city, all the skeletons that exist in the city, all the stories it contains. That’s what I find so fascinating”. What appealed to him about using tape however was its “lack of precedent”, the freedom that its novelty bestowed (“like having weight off the artistic shoulders”); its practicality, meaning one could work wherever one wanted; as well as its linearity, a characteristic meaning that one could produce work in a relatively speedy manner. Moreover, the inherent detachability of tape, its non-permeability, meant that the affixation of his work to a site functioned in a legally grey area: Not only creating an enjoyable confusion when subject to the wrath of local authorities, it was a way for Buff Diss to “civilly disobey”, to communicate with the city through a sensitive, honest visuality.
Whatever the project, each piece Buff Diss produces works as a unique artefact, the character of the surface he works with always a key presence. Reinterpreting these spaces with his tape works, playing with them with his unique designs, he thus transforms the environment whilst always acknowledging its presence, remodelling in imaginatively remarkable ways.
- Rafael Schacter