When Google puts on a conference, it’s a show. For people who typically attend academic or policy conferences (or even most other professional conferences), it was apparent that the Summit Against Violent Extremism was being led and produced by a technology leader. From the video productions on the dual large screens to the colored lighting to the thumping musical interludes, the conference was meant to dazzle.
All of this carried out into the gallery where a YouTube recording booth was set up, as was the Android T-shirt making table — all Google products, of course. But in the center of it all were two men creating graffiti art on large white canvasses related to themes of the conference, such as “survival” and “passion.” The two from Bristol, going by their artist names, Cheo and Silent Hobo, painted with cans and paint markers for two straight days.
Both Cheo and Silent Hobo, who are working together for the first time in Dublin, consider themselves artists on a broader scale. But it was their graffiti abilities that caught the attention of Google. “It’s probably because they wanted to do something cool and different,” said Cheo, noting that many of the attendees come from countries where they probably have never seen graffiti before.
Silent Hobo added that putting something creative in front of the participants with their art “could help with creativity in what they’re doing here.”
If Google Ideas is looking for ways to keep youth out of extremist movements, it might be a good idea to talk with Cheo, who says he has a very large young fan base. So much so, he has a graffiti coloring book on the market and kids often color them and send them back to the artist. It something that Cheo is proud of and “hopefully something that does some good for them, too,” he said.
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