Thursday Salute to Originals: Vandalism Takes Flight

Street artist Katsu has experimented with automating his graffiti process for a few years. Previously relegated to floating drones in front of canvases to paint within a controlled studio setting, his work has been displayed at NYC galleries in the traditional manner. Katsu recently shook things up by taking this act outside, catching the attention of the mainstream media.


Two weeks ago, a billboard in Manhattan showcasing Kendall Jenner modeling Calvin Klein gear, was defaced with graffiti. Standing six stories tall, one might wonder how the artist and his paint could elevate that high in the air. The answer? A computer-controlled drone that levitates and dispenses the paint. Katsu flew a drone up to the top of the billboard and released lines of red spray paint across the model’s image.


Interestingly, Katsu captured video recordings of the process for widespread dissemination over the internet. As opposed to some of his more private graffiti art counterparts, it seems that this act was performed boldly and unapologetically, with equal emphasis on both the process and the outcome.

We don’t condone destruction of property, nor do we think this was a particularly logical intervention, but this act points out the changing relationship between art and machinery.  “It’s really exciting to see and understand and think about what it means that many of the aesthetic decisions in these paintings are not my decisions,” Katsu explains.

Katsu’s more traditional canvas painting

References to consumption, advertising, and opinions on reality television aside, we think this urban intervention is a glimpse of the changing landscape of modern art. With the aid of machinery, advanced programming, and manufacturing technology, we can now reach places that were once physically unobtainable. The canvas need not be within arm’s reach any longer. With the aid of machines, in what other unreachable places can art make its mark?

Image credits: Core77, YouTube