The work of Australian street artist Buff Diss sticks in your head the same way it sticks to walls and streets: It’s made with tape.
This form of nondestructive graffiti has been around since at least 1989, but it’s kept a lower profile than some of the other forms of street art—perhaps because of its relative impermanence. Even one of the form’s leading practitioners just sort of fell into it.
"Tape became my main medium in 2005 by accident," Buff Diss says. "I’d meant to use it as a tool, but then I saw the lines of tape were drawings on their own—it saved a lot of time."
The artist lays out tape in clear lines and geometrical forms to decorate cityscapes with all manner of different images. Skulls are a recurrent theme, and so are hands—particularly when those hands are pincering either some object that’s part of the scenery or a person who will likely be there the next day. Sometimes the image is outlined in tape, and sometimes Buff Diss creates a pattern of intersecting lines, leaving inside a shaped vacuum space that forms the image. If these lines look precise from a distance, though, it’s an illusion; the artist measures proportions by eye.
"I tend not to sketch unless there’s a specific image to re-create, and even then I prefer to work from a photo," he says. "I should sketch more, but I enjoy the directness in finding a space and responding to it without a piece in mind."
Like all art that doesn’t hang inside a gallery, Buff Diss’ pieces face the problem of perishability. The threat of undoing seems greater than most with tape art, considering that anyone can just grab a loose end and start pulling. It all depends on where the piece is stationed, however.
"If a piece has long enough to bond to the surface, without weather getting to it first, it can hold for years," the artist says. "On glass, they become permanent. But a lot of pieces in the street will be gone the next day."
Regardless of whether the art hangs around for a long time or not, you can still view pictures of each piece long after they’re gone. Have a look through some of Buff Diss’s work in the slide show above.