Post by Minna Krejci
Art, or vandalism?
Or maybe a platform to show off some crazy cool technology?
Amidst continuing efforts by public officials to crack down on graffiti in most cities, the graffiti culture continues to evolve. In Chicago, no-nonsense “graffiti blasters” erase the work of writers within days or even hours, which has led to the emergence of a new, more competitive breed of artists. In Tucson, new anti-graffiti coatings that allow paint to be washed off with a garden hose threaten to shorten the lifetime of graffiti art even further. In Bridgeport, past and current street artists are working to legitimize the craft, by holding graffiti-inspired art shows and working with the city to create a “legal wall” for live art.
And in this age of technology, some tech-savvy artists are turning to media other than spray paint and stencils, with the help of groups such as the Graffiti Research Lab. GRL, which was originally supported by the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York City and is now part of the internet-based Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab, proclaims to be “dedicated to outfitting graffiti artists and activists with open source tools for urban communication.”
So what does this mean? See below:
With their L.A.S.E.R. (“light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”, apparently) Tagging System, the GRL team writes on buildings from hundreds of feet away. With lasers. Over and over again. Complete with the illusion of dripping paint.
Here’s how GRL explains the technology: “In its simplest form the Laser Tag system is a camera and laptop setup, tracking a green laser point across the face of a building and generating graphics based on the laser’s position which then get projected back onto the building with a high power projector.”
And if demonstrating their Laser Tag setup wasn’t enough, GRL offers do-it-yourself instructions and the open source code.
Here are a few other geek graffiti inventions by the graffiti engineers at GRL:
LED throwies – LED’s taped to a battery and a strong magnet that can be stuck onto any ferromagnetic surface:
Electro-Grafs – graffiti using magnetic and conductive paint to embed LED display electronics:
Members of GRL, Free Art and Technology (FAT), OpenFrameworks, and The Ebeling Group have also teamed up with a legendary graffiti writer named TEMPTONE, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2003, to develop the The Eyewriter – an eye-tracking system to allow ALS patients to draw using only their eyes:
And again, GRL offers DIY instructions for each of their inventions.
Now, if you’re still a fan of the more traditional street art, never fear – classic graffiti artists like the infamous Banksy aren’t going to get swept under the carpet that easily.