Applying graffiti with van-sized printers

The Institute for Applied Autonomy takes protest to the streets, literally.

The StreetWriter in action We Make Money Not Art

Having had some fairly infuriating experiences with graffiti as property owners, we view the work of outfits like the Institute for Applied Autonomy with mixed feelings, to say the least. Its stated mission, after all, is "to study the forces and structures which affect self-determination and to provide technologies which extend the autonomy of human activists." Translation: They make stuff like graffiti robots.

Still, from a pure gadget-loving point of view, we can't help but admire their unabashed guerrilla-like audacity. Take, for example, the "StreetWriter" project, which is essentially a van that's been converted into a giant printer that uses paint instead of ink to leave political messages in its wake. It's the expanded version of the "GraffitiWriter," a remote-controlled robot that "employs a custom built array of spray cans to write linear text messages on the ground at a rate of 15 kilometers per hour." In other words, street graffiti.

Inside of the van, not down by the river Institute for Applied Autonomy

Both were featured along with other creations of subversion in a recent interview with the anonymous Applied Autonomy folks by We Make Money Not Art. They say they have other tools in the works but would rather not discuss them yet, presumably because of their acknowledgment that "many of our projects exist in a legal gray area."

If they truly consider examples like the StreetWriter to be "gray," they might want to adjust the colors on their printer spectrum.

About the author

    Mike Yamamoto is an executive editor for CNET News.com.

     

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