1UP’s living art piece in Bali. Photo: Courtesy of 1UP Crew/SURFER Magazine

Graffiti – love it or hate it, it’s arguably the most impactful art movement of the 20th Century. You’d be hard-pressed to find the absence of illegal scrawlings, big or small, in any urbanized locale the world over. And while the illicit act of simply changing a surface from one color to another is generally viewed as destructive, a notorious graffiti crew’s latest installation aims to flip that perspective on its head.

Berlin, Germany’s 1UP Crew – an acronym for One United Power – took a trip to Bali last year for Sea Walls, an art festival hosted by non-profit PangeaSeed that raises awareness for ocean conservation. Inspired by the harrowing scientific fact that the world has lost half of its coral reef in the past 30 years, and is estimated to lose up to 90 percent by 2050, the 1UP Crew decided to produce a functional statement piece. They created and installed an artificial coral reef in the shape of their prolific moniker.

“Some of our crew members are really into diving and surfing, we were dreaming about an underwater installation for a long time,” an anonymous member of 1UP told Juxtapoz Magazine.

1UP Crew's artificial reef in the making. Photo: Courtesy of 1UP Crew/SURFER Magazine

“Beside having our exhibition and painting walls, we wanted to do something to bring awareness to the environmental changes in that region, and most of that of course relates to the ocean. The idea came up to do an underwater installation and building a coral farm, where coral could grow. It took us a while to figure out what we can do, but we did it! The worlds first underwater 3D Installation that serves as an artificial coral reef to help regenerate corals and marine life in Nusa Penida, Bali!”

It’s not surprising that 1UP had aspirations to “get up” – artists’ slang for making street art – underwater. Much like surfers search fringe locations for new waves, 1UP has a reputation for seeking out unexpected spots and hitting them in a big way. Their painting of the capsized hull of a luxury liner shipwreck in Greece went viral on social media. Their coordinated and brazen approach to painting a whole train car in a matter of minutes, while being mindful of exiting commuters, has earned them worldwide graffiti fame.

Whether you find yourself amazed or annoyed by these vandals’ efforts above and/or under the sea, one thing seems certain – that coral seems to be thriving in its new digs.

For more about PangeaSeed, click here. To follow the 1UP Crew’s exploits, click here.

The completed art piece, covered in marine life. Photo: Courtesy of 1UP Crew/SURFER Magazine

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