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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Light bright

The beginning

Harnessing the power of H2O

Soldering the night away

The wall

Time to play

Capturing imaginations

Peekaboo

Silhouette stencil

21st century graffiti

Chomp chomp

Blank canvas

How do you paint something in the real world without worrying about the cleanup? Check out Water Light Graffiti, an interactive LED art project by French artist Antonin Fourneau, created at the Paris-based Digitalarti Artlab studio.

Fourneau and his team amassed a wall of about 20,000 LED lights that illuminate upon contact with water. They displayed the installation for two days in late July in the city of Poitiers, France.

Geeks may find it interesting that each printed circuit board contains no resistors or transistors, so the water conducts electricity naturally.

Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti

Many rounds of prototyping occurred before the creators settled on the final board design used for the Water Light Graffiti wall. Above is a prototype board partially made of cardboard, copper clad, black vinyl, and copper tape.

Fourneau created the video below, in French, describing the trials and tribulations of making the right board for the job. A commenter on the Hackaday blog translated Fourneau's spoken French.

Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti
Later in the project, Fourneau and his team created the final printed circuit board used en masse in the visual experience. The "flowers" conduct electricity on the front, allowing the LEDs to light up when they encounter water.
Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti
Workers on the Water Light Graffiti project soldered 100 LED lights on each custom-made circuit board. It became sort of a competition within the group to complete a board as quickly as possible, with the fastest time coming in around 23 minutes.
Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti
The Digitalarti Artlab team, based in Paris, assembles the exterior of the Water Light Graffiti wall.
Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti

Project lead Antonin Fourneau and his team displayed the Water Light Graffiti board in Poitiers, France, from July 22 to 24. Anyone could participate in the artistic experience, and Fourneau made it truly fun by supplying Super Soaker water guns, spray bottles, buckets, and other "brushes" for people to experiment with.

"The idea emerged while teaching a workshop in China. I asked to the students to work on the idea of 'natural interactive device,' and one night I was in my room on an electronic project and [there was a] water spray [bottle] on the desk .... suddenly a flash (of inspiration)!"

Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti
"What I like in this project is the fact that water is only temporary, and hence the messages too, not like a graffiti where the message lasts," project lead Antonin Fourneau said in a related video featured at the end of this slideshow. "Here, with evaporation, it won't stay, a bit like the messages on Facebook where availability of the messages is time limited, they're not intended to stay for years," Antonin Fourneau said in an e-mail interview with Crave.
Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti
A behind-the-scenes picture of a young man trying his hand at painting the Water Light Graffiti wall.
Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti
The possibilities for painting on a board full of LEDs are limited only by the imagination of the artist. In this image, we see a stencil of a fellow before and after he steps away from the interactive light board.
Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti
An unidentified person associated with Digitalarti "paints" a stylish description of the Water Light Graffiti wall to attract attention to the project. In an e-mail interview with Crave, project lead Antonin Fourneau described another inspiration for the experience: "Water has an unconsciousness influence on my mind. I was born in Marseille, a pretty town in the south of France with beautiful beach."
Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti
One amateur artist drew a giant Pac-Man-type character on the left side of the Water Light Graffiti board.
Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti

Observers and Water Light Graffiti project members stand near the massive board filled with thousands of LED lights in Poitiers, France.

Here is a video of the interactive, water-sensitive light board in action:

Caption by / Photo by Digitalarti
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