Much like everything else, street art is evolving. Sure, you can paint a mural or stencil two policeman holding hands, but you can also embed a flash drive into a wall for people to hook their computers up and share data with.
By utilizing technology artists are now able to make their work interactive, with either people or the environments that surround them. These new interactive pieces create a more complex relationship with the work and are effectively similar to what you’d see in a gallery (some of them have made it into a gallery), but are out there on the streets, keeping it real.
As technology becomes cheaper, we can probably expect to see a lot more of this “smart” street art dazzling you as you pass it on the street and do a double-take. Whether it comes from a guerilla approach or from a commissioned work, we welcome it. Here are a few examples of street art getting interactive.
Aram Bartholl takes peer to peer file sharing onto the streets. USB drives are inserted into walls or any public space you can be bothered to drill a hole in and put some filler on. You then upload what you want onto the drive—mp3s, that novel you never finished, artwork, the Stuxnet virus… Then anyone can come along and download what you’ve left or upload what they want.
This is part of Eyebeam’s Graffiti Research Lab, the go-to people if you want to graff up the streets with technology. With this piece, Theo Watson uses digital projections to interact with the building it’s being projected upon. It uses a particle-based drawing system that generates particles from lit up windows. These are attracted to each other, but repel from windows that aren’t lit. You can watch it in action here.
Tetris in a Plaza
LummoBlocks by Lummo projects the game Tetris on to a giant screen in a public square, in this case the Plaza de las Letras in Madrid. Players move and rotate the blocks by walking across the plaza, and no doubt scream at each other in frustration and anxiety when those blocks start building up to a big fat fail.
QR codes. They never really took off did they? And this Tumblr can attest to that. But this is a neat little way to use them, and it gets bonus points for getting a cassette in there too. It’s from Berlin-based artist SWEZA. Users hold up their smartphones, which turn into a cassette tape playing music from the boombox poster.
Now, this one’s taken some effort, as the deisgners Urbanscreen had to rebuild the facade of this building in a studio and film the acrobatics, so that when they projected it onto the building it was accurate and realistic. Well, as realistic as giant people climbing through windows can look.