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​Recap is a participatory arts device that facilitates aesthetic adaptability, interaction and user participation in urban spaces. The concept was developed as part of an architectural intervention project for a local school, during my undergraduate degree at Plymouth University. Recap has also inspired the PixALL Crowd experiment.



Every day, populations move through public space but often have limited control over aspects of the architecture they are confronted with. In this sense, the practise of graffiti can be seen as an act of reclaiming some control over the appearance of public space.

But the act of graffiti (rather than being inclusive) is actually exclusive to those who are willing to break the law and/or purchase and carry spray paint or other mediums with them. Additionally, skill and experience is often required on the part of the graffiti artist. These three aspects limit the inclusion of communities in their ability to collectively adapt the aesthetic of public spaces that they frequently inhabit.


By securely arranging severed necks of discarded plastic bottles close enough together to form a surface where coloured bottle caps can be screwed on and off (removed, reposition and replaced) each cap may be seen as a pixel playing its part in a larger image. Bottle caps are ready at hand to the many people who frequently use and carry plastic drinks bottles, the lids of which often come in a variety of colours. There requires little skill on the part of the user as it is only necessary to edit a single bottle cap at a time while participating with a multitude of people. Essentially, there is a diffusion of responsibility in terms of the aesthetic quality of the outcome, which is determined collectively. The below image has been photoshopped to realistically (in terms of bottle cap scale and colour palette) demonstrate the recap adaptable aesthetic concept.

Bottle caps have been used as pixels in the creation of larger images before, but in such cases bottle caps themselves are permanently fixed into position. Conversely, this concept pertains to the use of severed bottle necks, which are fixed in position (adhered directly to walls or fixed into frames) and then allow for bottle caps to be screwed onto and off of the product, facilitating the emergence of adaptable, collaborative, and easily removable imagery.


A small 6 by 6 recap frame has been produced as a proof of concept. Standard plastic drinks bottle necks tend to require a 2.8 cm hole (if a frame is to be used, illustrated in the above diagrams), and 0.7 cm spacing between neighboring bottle necks to facilitate bottle cap replaceability. If you decide to embark on a recap project in your area, be sure to first acquire permission from your local council or the relevant land owner. Also, severing bottle necks can be dangerous and requires adult supervision (this is significantly easier when using an electric hotknife and a mask to protect against fumes). Otherwise, have fun and share your results with the #recapthecity hashtag!

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