The ancient Romans carved names into monuments and walls. A Viking mercenary authored the familiar graffitied sentence Haldvan was here in the Hagia Sophia. In times of peace and conflict, early suggestions of tagging have cemented a precariously balanced existence, as seen in an inscription on a wall at the fortress of Verdun:
Austin White – Chicago, Ill – 1918
Austin White – Chicago, Ill – 1945
This is the last time I want to write my name here.
In the early 70's, graffitist Demetrius began marking New York City with his tag TAKI 183. Comprised of a shortening of the name Dimitraki (an alternative to Demetrius' Greek birth-name Dimitrios) and 183 (the street Demetrius lived on in Washington Heights), Demetrius' efforts inspired an enduring culture of dedicated taggers.
But the impact of tagging lies in it's simplicity. Using a given or adopted name, taggers claim a space in the noise of the modern landscape. With little more than paint or pen, the action of tagging carves a notch in the directional passage of time. While the tagger may move on, the tag itself lingers, leaving an enduring imprint on a given environment.