Editor’s Note: Post-#BanksyNY residence, we turned to our number cruncher, Zachary McCune, to analyze the social media impact of the Banksy residency. Of course, all these tweets, photos, and other data points are simply those items that were labeled correctly. One can only imagine how big the impact was beyond these tagged items.

And related, the New York Times is saying that the NYPD are not classifying the Banksy balloons “art.” They report:

The letters’ estimated value, according to a gallery owner who specializes in Banksy’s work, is between $200,000 and $300,000. But in the view of the Police Department, which has categorized the balloons as “arrest evidence,” they are somewhat less rarefied, possibly to their peril … The categorization of mere balloonhood may mean the work will be discarded. To be saved, the piece must be claimed, and if it is not, it could be auctioned should the department deem it valuable. Neither has happened.

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Zachary McCune

Zachary McCune is a digital culture researcher specializing in mobile and social platforms. He has developed music visualizers for MTV, filmed a documentary on traditional Irish games, and written an...

6 replies on “A Look at the Social Media Impact of #BanksyNY Residency”

  1. So we know Banksy can make a headline and generate interest…i’d be interested in seeing what, if any, discussion was created about the subjects of the work, the quality of the work, or the effect the work had on those people who “tweeted” about it…

    1. And i don’t mean this as a negative “so what” type of thing…I really would like to know.

      This was one of the more widely visible art endeavors I’ve ever encountered and if the only effect it had was an increase in Tweets, it would seem we have some serious work to do in order to get people to really engage with art and activism.

      What makes a successful art project? A bunch of press or some real change? And if we achieved one without the other…why? What should us artists work to do differently and better?

      1. I don’t think your comment came off as a “so what” type. I think there were genuine conversations that happened, and I witness them repeatedly. Will it change art discourse? Hmmm … not sure. I do think it has changed the perception of street art in NYC, that’s for sure. And in a city that has had a knee-jerk response to street art for so long — and once subscribed (almost religiously to the ‘broken window’ theory) — this is welcome news. I hope that answers your question a little.

      2. Great question. I can definitely look more into the overal qualitative response. Interestingly, there were not a lot of original photos for many of the NYC pieces (e.g. Beaver in Brooklyn). But the amount of likes and comments each photo attracted was *very* high – even when it was a piece few people “witnessed”. There might be 10 photos of a single work, and average of 100+ likes for each one with dozens of comments.

        Reviewing folks critical reaction to the art might be harder to measure. I suppose if we took the most engaged content and reviewed the discussions therein it might reveal something.

        Let me look into it.

      3. Thanks for the responses! I don’t live in NYC and have had to follow along out of Milwaukee here in Wisconsin but it’s been a fun ride.

        Only reason for the “so what” side-note is that I’ve gotten some pretty rough push-back from Banksy-lovers for posting anything that could be considered negative feedback…but i really am hoping to simply expand the discussion on the residency past the “likes”.

        It’s interesting that there is (or could be) such a disparity between first hand photos compared to “liking” photos taken by someone else…I wonder if the effect of the piece is drastically different for those who just happened to encounter them, physically searched them out purposefully, or “liked’ a photo of it on the internet…and I wonder how that compares with a more traditional piece of fine art (seeing in a museum vs. on a screen).

        I think it’s amazing how much interest and attention the residency got…now I hope we continue to figure out what effect it’s actually had or what this interest means or can help us understand…as an artist I want to see if this is a one-off “only-worked-because-its-banksy” project or if there really is something more here that we need to investigate and understand…


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