Artist To Public: Spray My LED Canvas With Super Soakers!

For his “Water Light Graffiti” installation, Antonin Fourneau built a giant wall of LEDs and told the public to get it wet.

Water Light Graffiti,” the name of French artist Antonin Fourneau’s most recent installation, might sound like the product of some sort of tech-art mad libs, but it’s a pretty apt description of the project. It was a giant wall of LED lights. On which you could draw graffiti. With water. And no one got electrocuted!


The installation, open to the public in Poitiers, France, from July 22 to 24, encouraged passersby to sponge, spray, and otherwise soak a massive LED wall with wetted fingers, paint brushes, spray cans, and super soakers. Thousands of LEDs were rigged to light up upon contact with moisture, allowing people to write messages or doodle on a massive scale. After a few minutes, the LEDs dimmed, leaving a blank canvas for the next artist. Fourneau told me that the wall used standard LEDs, and the trick behind it was a relatively simple one: He designed a piece he dubbed “the flower” to catch droplets of water, then use them to conduct electricity to the lights.

This wasn’t the artist’s first experiment with the conductive properties of moisture; last year he created an installation at the Centre Pompidou in Paris that used a wet sponge to turn a group of hand-holding humans into a collaborative game controller. Another recent project involved a set of saliva-controlled LED dentures. That one’s a bit nightmarish.

Fourneau, who realized the Water Light Graffiti project during his residency with the Digitalarti Artlab, says that “Water Light Graffiti is a wall for ephemeral messages in the urban space without deterioration. A wall to communicate and share magically in the city.” Basically, a place to tag without getting busted for it.

And tag it the people did. The graffiti collective Painthouse was invited to give demonstrations to curious onlookers and encourage participation. Probably a smart decision. If you handed me a bucket of water and told me to heave it against a huge wall of LEDs, I’d want to see you do it first.

[Hat tip Inhabitat]