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Tech by VICE

Watch a Drone Programmed to Spray Anti-Trump Graffiti

Well-known vandal improves his graffiti drones to write messages with the use of programmed spray arms.

by Leif Johnson
Jan 22 2017, 5:00pm
Almost two years ago graffiti artist and self-described vandal KATSU used a drone equipped with a spray can to paint red streaks—quite illegally—across the face of Kendall Jenner on one of New York's largest billboards. He had to pilot the so-called Icarus One himself at the time, which made tracing out any recognizable characters a chore from so many yards away. Now, though, he's modded another DJI quadcopter to support an articulating arm that can spray letters and words on its own after the user enters the message with a PC. I asked him over email if it was difficult to program.

"Not as difficult as stomaching Trump as the president of the United States," he said. Eventually, he'd like for the technology to be something "a young curious vandal in Idaho could use."

KATSU specifically contacted us about his new and improved drone "in response to [Trump's] inauguration."

As you can see in the video above, you wouldn't want to use this to paint a mural, but it's a huge leap up from what KATSU showed us in our 2014 interview.

KATSU's tagging of a New York billboard in 2015. Video: Yeah Boyy

Much as he did for the Icarus One in 2015, KATSU eventually plans to release open-source instructions with software and hardware specs for making the improved quadcopter, which he prefers to call the "Icarus Two" or the "KATSU Drone." He said it's "obvious" more diverse color palettes and sophisticated drawings will come in the future, but for now he's focused on getting artists and individuals to "create art/technology" for each other.

"Hopefully young vandals will be motivated to create and iterate on the project themselves," he said.