April 13-17, 2010
Denver, Colorado, USA

Demonstrations: Description

Paint Out- Virtual Graffiti

Lauren Addario, New Mexico Highlands University, USA
Leif Percifield, New Mexico Highlands University, USA
Kara Pajewski, New Mexico Highlands University, USA

PaintOut is a collaborative work that allows the participant to create a virtual graffiti drawing on any reflective surface. PaintOut facilitates the creation of temporary street art and graffiti, and because of this, it allows the normally marginalized street artist to participate in the current contemporary art dialogue without defacing or damaging public property.

The initial inspiration for PaintOut came from Matthew McCormick’s, The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal. In his short film, McCormick identifies areas that have been tagged and compares the methods of covering up tagging to modernist art forms. The covering up of graffiti becomes a secondary art form and in some cases, provides a blank canvas for new creations. Although not specifically mentioned in the film, Paint Out is a phrase used by the city of Seattle in its graffiti removal program. On its website, the Paint out program has a tag line of its own, “The difference between art and graffiti is permission.” By the very nature of this comment, a more interesting dialogue is taking place.

A differentiation already exists between street artists and graffiti artists. Graffiti implies urban decay and is painted out or painted over. Street art has become part of the design of the urban environment. Our initial version of PaintOut allowed each user to erase the artwork of the previous user. We have decided to change that for this iteration and force the user to deal with a more realistic environment. They can either paint over existing artwork or add to it. The resulting product mimics the analog world of painting on a surface that others have already used. In this way, the piece becomes more about collaboration and communication rather than a personal statement created in isolation.

Technically, the “PaintOut” system functions using an infrared camera that tracks LED emitters built into modified spray paint cans. The video projected on the wall allows us to see the results of the infrared tracking program, which creates the simulation of spray paint, and gives the user the ability to specify color, spray width, and texture. “PaintOut” allows the participant to create a virtual graffiti drawing on any reflective surface and can be transported, permanently installed, or readapted for custom applications. Participants can choose to save their creation, pressing a button on the spray can that sends it immediately to the server for public viewing. Installation in a museum space means that users are creating something at the museum, and that web users can see what is happening in almost real time- a true application of web 2.0 principles.

Demonstration: Welcome Reception - Denver Art Museum [Reception]

Keywords: graffiti, virtual, experimental, physical computing, site specific, networked