The Best in Australian Street Art
Brooklyn Street Art - August 2015

Build Your Own Graffiti Drone

Drones that can be used to spray street art? I love it.

This from Hyperallergic - Artist Katsu has been working hard at extending the language of public mark making, and his latest experiments have been drone-based. Long known for his distinctive, large-scale fire extinguisher tags that trail across whole walls, his spray-painting flying machines are the latest evolution of his interest in “things that can make marks,” he tells Hyperallergic.

Icarus One (via icarusone.com)

Icarus One (via icarusone.com)

Named after the Greek mythological figure who flew too close to the sun with wings made of feathers and wax, Icarus One is the “world’s first open-source paint drone.” A page of instructions on the project’s website offers schematics to 3D-print your own parts, links to places to buy necessary elements, and even the option to buy one fully assembled.

The artist most recently used his specially designed drone to paint a “dronescape” at Coney Art Walls in Brooklyn’s Coney Island neighborhood. The result is a simple and moody landscape on a handball wall that consists of a lightly dusted blue sky and hazy green hills. “The series of paintings I am making now reflects this very short period of time before drones are able to paint like printers,” he says. “It’s the beauty in simplicity and crudeness. Like the beauty in a child’s drawing.”

Katsu foresees a central role for drones in the “new post-human art” environment. “These are our new limbs, the internet, the smartphone, the drone …. It’s only in its infancy but the Icarus drone will eventually open the doors to precision drawing and painting on a scale and speed like we’ve never experienced.”

A detail of Icarus One painting on a wall (image via icarusone.com)

A detail of Icarus One painting on a wall (image via icarusone.com)

He’s already working on the next generation of Icarus with his friend Maddy Varner, which, he explains, will have “eyes.”

The implication of the Icarus drone is that the function of the artist will eventually be automated after the right program or algorithm is created to propagate her or his ideas and designs.

“[The drone project] hasn’t changed me as an artist. It has however mutated my perception of self,” he says. “I see my reflection phone in hand, drone in hand (or on back). I feel I have reach. My drone paintings can take larger form — 100-foot, shit, 300-foot-long paintings.”

You have to wonder if Katsu’s evolving family of drones, like their namesake, will overstep their limitations. The Greek legend recounts the tale of a giddy Icarus who, overcome by hubris, flew too close to the sun and melted the wax of his wings before plunging into the sea to his death. Considering the illegality of graffiti in most cities and increasingly stringent regulation of drone usage, it’s not hard to imagine the penalties that spray-painting drones could rack up.




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