IN THE EARLY HOURS of Wednesday morning, the age of robotic graffiti was born.
A well-known graffiti artist and vandal know as KATSU, used a hacked Phantom drone to tag a giant red scribble across Kendall Jenner’s face on one of New York City’s largest and most viewed billboards. It is the first time that a drone has been used for a major act of public vandalism.
Many of you may have heard of KATSU when he made headlines in April last year, for discovering how to attach a spray can to an off-the-shelf DJI Phantom drone. At the time, the drone was only used to paint canvasses for white-wall galleries.
KATSU assured the world that soon he would take his invention out into the streets and create enormous tags in places that were previously inaccessible to even the most daring taggers. Now, he appears to have proven his promise in grand fashion.
One of New York City’s largest billboard, the Calvin Klein billboard, sits at the busy intersection of Houston St and Lafayette St. Due to the difficulty of tagging the billboard, it has become one of NYC’s notorious targets for graffiti artists.
The gigantic, six story tall billboard was previously graced by a topless Justin Bieber. Since then it has been replaced by a large portrait photo of Kendall Jenner. “It is almost impossible to tag it using traditional methods,” said KATSU.
One could try to rappel off the top of the building or even use a cherry picker, however neither of these options are exactly safe or subtle, let alone provide enough time to carry out the tag. That along with the cops patrolling the area makes it an almost impossible task.
With the drone, by contrast, it took less than a minute. Still, the artist admitted, “It was a bit tense.”
As we see the drone industry flourish, multi-copters like the DJI Phantom will predictively become cheaper and more powerful, and we will more than likely see artists use the drones capabilities for subversive acts on the streets. KATSU’s scribble high above SoHo might not look like much, but it represents the potential that drones have to transform graffiti forever.
While DroneSec does not endorse the vandalism of public property via drones, it’s quite a feat and certainly will have councils thinking of ways to counter it.