Graffiti Research Lab are a pair of NYC-based artists who met at futuristic creative lab Eyebeam – a company that has had other hot artists like Cory Arcangel working under its wing. Much of GRL’s work involves projecting light beams of graffiti-style tags onto buildings. In the past they have also created LED “throwies”, which can be thrown onto walls and create text and images. Lights, lasers and LEDs have an inbuilt sense of modernity and lightness. They don’t annoy people as much as paint. In a way GRL’s work is like painted graffiti but with the process of time speeded up to seconds rather than years. Instead of watching the elements attack a wall over time, here the images are so transitory they’re gone in minutes.
GRL have projected their dripping light images onto the Brooklyn Bridge, international skyscrapers and miniature pyramids in Italy (the Egyptian ones may still be a bit too big to attack as yet). Sometimes the glowing projections look rather rough around the edges, but that DIY freedom is what gives the work its impact. The work still explores many of the same ideas that underlie graffiti – personal politics and identity, the reclamation of public space, new methods of pushing letterforms and visual language. There’s also a real sense of freedom to their approach. They are equally free from the rigidity of the graffiti world’s self-imposed rules and regulations as they are from the curatorial-heavy institutionalised art world.
They aren’t the only artists exploring the idea of fusing technology with street art. Karolina Sobecka created projected film pieces, transforming cityscapes into a moving backdrop for nightglow animations. German collective Lichtfaktor uses lights to draw images at night in open space and capture the resulting images on film. There’s something about the fact that the work can only be created and seen at night that fits perfectly with graffiti’s heritage of illegal night-time painting. This geek-street vein of art is bound to keep growing…
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