Text by Mandi Keighran
Drones are all the rage at the moment – from controversial military applications to fanciful Amazon deliveries. Now, New York-based graffiti artist KATSU is using them to take street art to the skies. “Drones are a natural and exciting new extension of the human body,” he says. “It’s the right time for drones to become a tool for artists.”
It’s the latest in a long list of stunts designed by the artist to get his work into the public eye – a process he describes as “accumulating FameTokens”. He’s tagged the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA using a paint-filled fire extinguisher; used the same fire extinguisher hack to paint an elephant that’s visible from space on a NYC rooftop; and constructed tags in the digital realm of Minecraft.
So, where did the idea to employ a drone as his artist’s assistant come from? “We’re at a bizarre crossroad now where advanced technology is accessible to anyone,” he says. “The use of the drone has always been a dream; the ability to levitate a spray paint can is a special thing. But it’s not just about the functionality, it’s also about the relationship of technology to graffiti. My relationship with the drone is like playing a video game: I feel out a composition and the drone will agree or challenge me. Eventually, though, the drone will develop a creative mind of its own.”
For now, KATSU is using his drones on large canvases, and is remaining tight-lipped on whether he’s used them to tag public spaces. We’re guessing it won’t be long before the graffiti drones take to the streets and KATSU accumulates a few more FameTokens.
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