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The Graffiti Drone 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the vandalism-goes-high-tech dept.
tedlistens writes: "KATSU is known for his adventurous and speculative vandalism, but his new project is not fake or hypothetical, though it does elevate his work to new heights. He has developed a system to attach a spray can to a quadcopter, creating one of the world's first graffiti drones. The drone is capable of spraying canvases or walls hundreds of feet high, granting the artist access to spaces that were previously inaccessible. At the Silicon Valley Contemporary art fair, which opened Thursday, KATSU is showing a series of drone-painted canvasses — and preparing to take the drone out on the town. 'There are a lot of disadvantages to drones, you know. It's not like, "oh, I'll slip off the edge of this bridge and die,"' he tells the Center for the Study of the Drone at Motherboard, which also has a video. 'Its like, "I might have the drone drift off and I might kill someone."'"
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The Graffiti Drone

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  • Heh... (Score:2, Funny)

    by the_skywise (189793)

    Demolition Man was off by about 20 years...

  • For the Swarm! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baby Duck (176251) on Friday April 11, 2014 @10:58AM (#46725283) Homepage
    I will be more impressed by a dozens of drones simultaneously spraying, crossing streams to make more colors.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You said crossing the streams was bad!

    • Don't cross the streams it would be bad.
    • Which would mean a dozen nozzles .. The recoil .. I'd be surprised if they can achieve any form of art unless there is some AI component involved.
      • by cusco (717999)

        They're taggers, it's not like they're doing art now either.

        • by GTRacer (234395)

          [...] it's not like they're doing art now either.

          Wait, are you saying it isn't art because:

          * They're tagging and therefore it can't be art
          * Grafitti isn't art no matter how it's executed
          * This particular tagger isn't talented enough to be an artist

          • by mlk (18543)

            Tags as a general rule are shit. Wow you wrote you name on a wall. Well done. Have a cookie. Some times effort is put into a tag, but lets be honest, most people do not.

            It is still "art", it is just shit art. That should be painted over.

            That not the case for all tags (but 99.9999% of them). Grafitti however as a general rule is meh. Some of it can be great, some of it can be shit (wow it is a very good dick you just spray painted on a wall).

          • by unrtst (777550)

            [...] it's not like they're doing art now either.

            Wait, are you saying it isn't art because:

            * They're tagging and therefore it can't be art

            * Grafitti isn't art no matter how it's executed

            * This particular tagger isn't talented enough to be an artist

            Pretty creative quoting there... you snipped our a whole two words so you could exclude the main point/categorization - they're taggers. That invalidates the latter two points, and the first point is much easier to approach - is tagging art?

            Defining "art" is completely subjective. Was Duchamp's "Fountain" art? IMO, that piece is about as far as I'd push the definition, and I'm still not sure if it is. It did make a significant statement, but it did far more with the piece than tagging a building. (almost) a

            • by GTRacer (234395)
              I promise I wasn't trying to misrepresent the original - I was trying to get at the distinction between tagging and graffiti. I always thought tags were small-scale graffiti signatures. Not the larger-scale mural-style pieces to be sure, but what few I've seen have occasionally been creative.

              Hm. I guess in the usual cop-out way, I'd say I'd call it art if it seemed like art. But more seriously, if the tag was more interesting that a straight signature, or was intriguing in some way I'd call it art.

              Also
              • by cusco (717999)

                Murals are not the same as graffiti, even if they were done without permission. At least that's my opinion, YMMV. I used to know a muralist, and there's a lot to it. I've known a couple of taggers, and truthfully, if a crackhead can do it then I have trouble considering it 'art'.

          • It isn't art when it defaces other people's property.
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          They're taggers, it's not like they're doing art now either.

          Don't confuse "tagging" with "graffiti".

          Tagging requires neither skill nor talent and is done by bored kids who think they're gang members.

          Actual graffiti artists (think Banksy) can create some really good pieces which people actually collect.

          Some graffiti artists have some pretty mad skills, and create some really good pieces.

          • by cusco (717999)

            I really think the so-called 'graffiti artists' really should be considered muralists, whether they had permission to paint their mural or not. It's a constructive act, meant to create something attractive or at least meaningful. Graffiti and tagging are destructive acts, only slightly better than tossing a rock through a window.

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              Graffiti and tagging are destructive acts, only slightly better than tossing a rock through a window.

              Meh, by the time you learn to be one of these 'muralists' you've gone through a lot of bad graffiti.

              Sometimes graffiti is political or culturally significant (think "Eric Clapton is God"), and has been with us since the ancient Greeks. It's not likely to go away.

          • Actual graffiti artists (think Banksy) can create some really good pieces which people actually collect.

            Banksy is a "street artist" (who mostly copies Blek le Rat). Robbo was a "graffiti artist".

      • by gnick (1211984)

        Which would mean a dozen nozzles .. The recoil .. I'd be surprised if they can achieve any form of art unless there is some AI component involved.

        Building an "inverted pendulum" is a pretty common engineering school assignment. Not too sophisticated, but neat and far more complicated than simply compensating for propulsion from spray paint.

    • Egon: Don't cross the streams.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This takes all the fun out of graffiti. There always has been some kind of mark of artists pride to have people look at a tag and say "How the bugger did they get up there?"

    Now it will just be "Oh, high-tech vandals." The magic is gone

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kruach aum (1934852)

      No, the magic has moved from the person willing to risk his life to the team of persons intelligent enough to create a machine that is controllable from a distance and not beholden to the laws of gravity.

    • by cusco (717999)

      Oh, no, there will still be plenty of fun available. I, for instance, am getting bored with using my sling and slingshot at stationary targets, a moving target would definitely be more entertaining and challenging. I've never thrown a bolo either, but that seems like the ideal weapon to use on one of these since cast nets don't have the range. I'll have to make one this weekend in case this moron comes to Seattle.

    • This takes all the fun out of graffiti. There always has been some kind of mark of artists pride to have people look at a tag and say "How the bugger did they get up there?"

      Now it will just be "Oh, high-tech vandals." The magic is gone

      The "magic" has been gone from graffiti since the early 80's. In the US at least. I rarely see anything other than tags these days, and not many of those are all that impressive any longer. I've seen some pretty nice graffiti in Europe though. Germany in particular.

    • by Rinikusu (28164)

      What bugs me is that with the element of being "hands on", it really does discourage tagging on things like private single family housing as there's the very real possibility that a home owner and will defend his property. With a drone.. not so much.

  • I expect... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msauve (701917) on Friday April 11, 2014 @11:07AM (#46725411)
    He's not going to complain when the police drones provide a counterpoint by dousing him with pepper spray, right?
    • Dunno, but I think law enforcement should ideally be held to a higher standard than someone running around calling themselves the Japanese word for breaded pork tenderloin.
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Dunno, but I think law enforcement should ideally be held to a higher standard than someone running around calling themselves the Japanese word for breaded pork tenderloin.

        So, what do we infer about a poster calling themselves 'interkin3tic'?

        Does this convey credibility to you? Or should we discount your opinion as that of someone who has allowed l337 speak to become a factor in his life?

        • You probably shouldn't trust me with a badge, a gun, and a drone-mounted pepper spray.

          And I probably shouldn't trust you to get my point. My point, joking about his handle aside, was that "turnaround would be fair play" is not true when talking about law enforcement, which seemed to be what msauve was suggesting.
      • by msauve (701917)
        Although it varies by state, in general pepper spray may be used wherever use of physical force is. Protecting property from damage usually falls into that category.
    • by timholman (71886)

      He's not going to complain when the police drones provide a counterpoint by dousing him with pepper spray, right?

      Or let's put it another way: does KATSU object to the police having drones in the sky, providing 24/7 surveillance?

      Because if he does, his high-tech vandalism is providing the government with the perfect rationalization for putting their drones in the sky: "See? The bad guys have drones, and they're using them to commit crimes. We need our own drones to stop them."

      Add to that argument the fact

  • so the public can pummel them with rotten fruit.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Rotten fruit thrown from drones?

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday April 11, 2014 @11:17AM (#46725513)

    More graffitis in cities...

    I wish those so-called "artists" practised their art on canvas at home or something, instead of ruining cityscapes and costing taxpayers millions for cleanup.

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday April 11, 2014 @11:31AM (#46725673) Homepage Journal

      More graffitis in cities...

      I wish those so-called "artists" practised their art on canvas at home or something, instead of ruining cityscapes and costing taxpayers millions for cleanup.

      Methinks you are conflating "professional graffiti artist" with "idiot taggers."

      graffiti artists are the people responsible for those really cool murals; [google.com] taggers are those wastes of flesh with nothing better to do than hose a wall with random lines and shapes, then claim it's some sort of "signature."

      Regarding this KATSU person, it appears from a Google image search [google.com] that he's of the latter group.

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        graffiti artists are the people responsible for those really cool murals; [google.com]

        You know what's really cool? Getting the permission of the owner of a property (or local government) before practicing one's art. The painting can be as whizbang as one can imagine, but without that authorization from whoever owns or manages the wall, "cool" is not the word for it.

        • graffiti artists are the people responsible for those really cool murals; [google.com]

          You know what's really cool? Getting the permission of the owner of a property (or local government) before practicing one's art.

          Whoever said that never happens?

          Of course, part of the problem with government permission is that the people running the local government are often morons (at least, that's my experience), so they ignore the requests from good artists, and instead award the contracts to buddies of buddies.

          The painting can be as whizbang as one can imagine, but without that authorization from whoever owns or manages the wall, "cool" is not the word for it.

          That's your opinion, and you're welcome to it. I disagree.

          • by CRCulver (715279)

            Whoever said that never happens?

            You told your fellows here to look at a Google image search where there were both murals painted as a result of some community-authorized project and others painted without permission. For you to now claim that you were advocating for authorized artworks is disingenuous.

            • Whoever said that never happens?

              You told your fellows here to look at a Google image search where there were both murals painted as a result of some community-authorized project and others painted without permission.

              My fault, I suppose, for forgetting about all the pedants out there. Sorry for presuming the whole of my audience was not petty, and intelligent enough to understand the point I was making without requiring me to break out the whiteboard and markers and draw it out point-by-point.

              For you to now claim that you were advocating for authorized artworks is disingenuous.

              I've claimed no such thing, and in fact have implied the opposite - when you said that you believed, "'cool' is not the word for [unauthorized art installations]," I specifically disagreed with that statement.

              Your outrage is mispla

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        If he did not get permission from the building owner for every piece of "art" he created, then he's merely a vandal with better PR.

      • by cyn1c77 (928549)

        graffiti artists are the people responsible for those really cool murals; [google.com]

        The thing is, those "really cool murals" aren't as cool when you find one on your house one morning. Or on your fence that you just had painted. The day that you are having a big party at your house for your staid work colleagues, including your boss.

    • by gurps_npc (621217)
      The cities are just as much to blame as the people you insult with your quotes.

      Even just restricting it to graffiti, cities do stupid things like declaring chalk is graffiti - even though it washes away with rain - and arresting kids.

      The artists don't destroy neighborhoods, the cities let them get destroyed so that they are incredibly ugly, refusing to clean them up. At least until some kid comes along and paints a wall that is falling down. Then finally the city comes in and white washes it. Simultane

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        Even just restricting it to graffiti, cities do stupid things like declaring chalk is graffiti - even though it washes away with rain.

        Even temporary vandalism can have an effect on property values and, assuming the broken window theory holds (which I myself am uncertain of), possibly crime rates. So, it makes sense to prosecute those creating images with chalk without the authorization of whoever owns or manages the surface they are covering.

    • More graffitis in cities...

      Not if there's a huge army of cleanup drones.. From the look of that video we'll see cleanup drones before graffiti drones.

    • by Khashishi (775369)

      Look at the video. He IS practicing on canvas at home. It just doesn't reflect in his skill.

    • And yet, when disgusting glass and steel monstrosities start blighting gentrified neighborhoods, the 'property rights' brigade thinks that's all well and good. I'd call that ruining a cityscape infinitely more than a little paint from someone trying to develop a positive creative outlet. (yes I am aware that some graffitti is gang-related - that type tends to have (much much) lower artistic value) I guess the rights of real estate developers to make money mean more than the rights of people who actually liv
  • by Richy_T (111409) on Friday April 11, 2014 @11:34AM (#46725695) Homepage

    For the big yellow smiley face on the statue of liberty in light-sensitive paint.

  • Let us know when he can actually control it. Right now it looks like he's channeling Jackson Pollock.

    -jcr

    • by bluescrn (2120492)
      I don't really want to give him ideas, but attaching a pair of wheels/castors to the front of the drone might allow it to roll up and down a large/smooth vertical 'canvas' with far less flying skill than required for a close hover...
    • by timeOday (582209)
      What would be a good UI for this? Too automated, and it's just a big inkjet printer. (You will see research papers doing that in the next few years, I'm certain.) This is fine except the art wouldn't really be getting anything new from the medium, just printed in a different way.

      But joysticking in 3d to operate on a 2d canvas doesn't seem right either.

  • Like other people said, it's too bad these artists disrespect the property rights of others.

    It takes some practice to fly these drones well, even though they have such high-tech features as on-board GPS systems and smartphone or tablet software as control devices in many cases. They're usually smart enough to do things like stop moving and hover in place, when they lose a control signal, until you catch back up with them. But flying one precisely enough to draw actual paintings with spray paint is surely no

    • by Khashishi (775369)

      In the jungle there are no property rights.

      If you consider the environment some of these youths were raised in, yes, it's a jungle.

  • If the drone contributes 50% or more of the final output, is it still art? Even if the drone didn't contribute, would it still be art?
    How usable with this be high up in the air next to a building when the wind is blowing?
    What about the air pollution produced by spraying paint with VOCs all over the place? Are graffiti "artists" insensitive to environmental concerns?

    I think it would be better to use the quad blades to lift the drone to the desired height then use a ducted fan or other technology to adhere

  • I suppose that what you Americans call "tagging" is known in my country (Brazil) as "pichação". This "art" is made by animals marking their "territory", and the only thing that works well against this urban blight is a good bullet in the head. Or even better, two bullets to ensure. There is no more depressing thing than seeing your entire city tagged by these animals (And believe me, they also act and talk like animals).
  • That is *not* a Graffiti Drone, it's an RC Quadcopter with a Spraycan attached. Hopelessly imbalanced and overladen, aimlessly spraying paint about and barely even hitting the space it's supposed to paint on, let alone drawing anything remotely resembling usefull graffity.

    These guys have a long way to go.

    My 2 cents.

  • I don't get the drone vs rappelling on rope issue. I'm open to being educated tho. What I see is that in the past, people defaced others property - public or private, up close and personal. Now with a drone, the defacer can deface others property without having to put themselves at risk. What's changed? Maybe there'll be a real issue when someone operating a drone defaces property and someone gets killed cleaning up as they had to rappel to sandblast the paint. This is similar to stealing copyrighted mat
  • From the article title I thought they could be like something out of "All Tomorrow's Parties".

  • I expected the little widdle drone doing something...you know, that resembled a drawing or a pattern, even if it's just a signature or a smiley face or a pattern of dots or something.

    Instead the poor bugger just stumbles around with a constant stream of paint. That's not very artistic at all, it just gets the wall dirty.
    The drone in the video does what any RC quadcopter would do if you attached a permanently-on paint spray to it. For someone regarded as an artist I expected something...artistic. Or at least

  • It is ugly and ruins neighborhoods that already have enough problems. It is vandalism not art. Buy your own walls what your not that good to afford your own. Or you dont want that crap on your own wall.
    • I know of a bunch of shops and bakeries that hired graffiti artists to paint something on their fence, and in all cases it was a great job. You can only see them when the shop is closed, but still. Some towns also let good stuff survive. Not all graffiti is some idiot tagging a wall.

      Although, in this very specific case it's just vandalism. The drone can't even be manipulated to draw a sorry smiley face or a square or anything, it just gets the wall dirty at random. It's not even a drone given how poorly con

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