Graffiti’s acceptance in the high art and commercial worlds has ensured longevity to a select number of pieces. Of course, governments painting over what gets thrown up on walls outside of galleries continue to impose a state of impermanence to the rest of street art. Taking such temporality into their own hands, more and more artists are making use of the increased accessibility of projectors. Call it a reclamation of control or just pure tech nerdery, there’s a growing scene of digital graffiti artists.
The newest breakthrough in this scene is Sweatshoppe‘s “video painting” style, captured in their first video “The Landing” [see above], where they essentially wheat paste moving images on walls.
What makes it different from previous “Guerilla Projection,” “Photon Bombing,” or “Urban Projection” pieces is that they are able lay their projections on a surface, paint-stroke by paint stroke–as opposed to just projecting the entire piece at once. They’re not the first to recreate the act of throwing paint up, for which most accredit Graffiti Research Lab. However, they’ve taken projected video and applied it to the physical act of bombing–which is one for the history books.
Sweatshoppe describes itself as “a new multimedia performance collaboration…that works at the intersection of art, music and technology.” One of the men behind the collective is non other than New York video artist Bruno Levy, whose previous work has been blogged right here on Trashmenagerie! The other half of Sweatshoppe is Blake Shaw, a young and wickedly talented interactive video artist currently based in Vermont.
I had a chance to catch up with Bruno and ask him more about this new project.
Waxyjax: How did you and Blake meet?
Bruno Levy: We met in Kathmandu. I had a little restaurant and he told me he wanted to throw a rave, the place was packed at maximum capacity (30 people), and that’s when I knew we could could take it far.
WJ: You made a name for yourself as a VJ with Squaresquare. What are your
goals for sweatshoppe?
BL: As a VJ, I reacted to someone else’s music. SWEATSHOPPE’s goal is to
create a whole interactive performance that leaves its viewers “sweaty”.
WJ: What can you reveal about the inner workings of “video painting”?
BL: Blake wrote the software in Max. The paint roller does not use any sort of paint, it simply contains green LEDs. The software tracks the color green and outputs the x y position which are sent to drawing commands and the strokes are textured with video. I could go into direct detail but I don’t want to expose our secrets just yet [wink]. The paint roller is an actual paint roller that we sort of “pimped-out” with faux-fur, green LEDs and an on/off button. We plan on eventually releasing the software–but only after it is much more refined, buffed up with features and user-friendly.
WJ: What was the toughest part of that whole process?
BL: Remembering to bring all the cables.
WJ: I’ve asked around and no one can think of any other artist who’s done something like this. What kinds of attention have you gotten so far?
BL: So far its been nothing but positive. I’m just happy to create something very unique–we use software written by Blake, video created by me, music by us both and we get to perform with a glowing paint roller. It’s tactile and, to me, is more interesting than just clicking on buttons. I’ve already been approached by arts publications and organizations to do performance demos at their events. Can’t say who exactly since we’re still talking.
WJ: What’s next?
BL: We want to take this idea further, use it more with the architecture, and start layering video. Also we are developing lots of other software that will enable us to play with video and sound. We are making music, working out and sweating.