Art or Vandalism? See the World’s First Graffiti Drone

An artist known as Katsu has laid claim to a first in aerial artistry: He’s developed the world’s first graffiti drone.

Katsu, a popular vandal artist from New York City, created the world’s first graffiti drone. (Image source: The Hole NYC)

The artist is famous in street-art circles for creating a spray-painting fire extinguisher that allowed him to tag tall walls with a single spray of paint. Now the well-known vandal is taking his passion (with questionable legality) to new heights.

In an interview with Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone, the vandal artist said he began collaborating with hardware developers and 3-D printing models to create a prototype sprayer that would work with a drone.

“I attached a cradle with a spray paint can and other hardware to the drone. I created a series of paintings that are larger, about maybe 3 feet by 3 feet all the way up to 25 feet by 15 feet … And basically, I achieved the perfect air pressure, the perfect weight of the paint and the perfect materials so that the drone didn’t freak out when I attached these mechanisms to it,” Katsu said.

The drone and artist at work. (Image source: YouTube)

In the interview, Katsu admitted the blurred legality of his new art form.

“There aren’t any clear laws right now. I was test-flying my drone down on Houston St. and these DTs—the undercovers—drove by in the cab, and  they were looking at me and looking at this drone and going by at this weird 6 1/2 mile per hour roll, and you could just see it on their faces that they were just really mesmerized and confused and scared and excited, all at the same time,” he said.

To say no laws exist regarding drones or vandalism simply isn’t accurate, but using unmanned aerial systems for commercial enterprise is still very much illegal, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

A piece called “Seasonal Depression” from the vandal artist. (Image source: Center for the Study of the Drone)
A close-up view of an untitled Katsu piece. (Image source: Center for the Study of the Drone)

So, is this art, commercial work or just vandalism? Bard’s drone center had this to say:

Just as autonomous drone technology in the military sphere will challenge structures of accountability and responsibility, KATSU’s graffiti drone, which he hopes will soon be capable of autonomously creating its own artworks, challenges our notions of authorship, creativity and power: Who’s the artist, the human or the machine?

Likewise, just as the drone has expanded the physical and surveilant reach of militaries and governments, in the cities where artists constantly seek to place their artwork in the most unreachable places, the drone could become a powerful tool of art and vandalism.

The spray-painted, art-via-quadcopter is on display this weekend at the Silicon Valley Art Fair.

Check out the video here:

(H/T: The World’s Best Ever)

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