Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
A French artist has built a giant water-sensitive light-board for your artistic pleasure.
Parisian artist Antonin Fourneau has created an array of water-sensitive LEDs that allow for a new art form he calls "Water Light Graffiti." Participants use a water gun, a brush or a spray bottle to create patterns of moisture that light up the board.
"What I like about it is that water is so ephemeral," Fourneau says in this video of his workshop, in which he explains (in French) his techniques. "The message isn't definitive at all. With evaporation, the message disappears."
Fourneau is an artist and professor at Paris' School of Decorative Arts, one of the France's premier design training grounds. For the past few weeks, he's been in residence with the French magazine Digital Arti, working to perfect the WLG prototype. The materials are not necessarily complex - one low-tech version uses just cardboard, electrical tape and copper tape - and the project works like a printed circuit board. The lights are set on cut-off islands of copper tape, and the introduction of water acts as a conductor between the lights and the main body of the copper sheet. As the water evaporates, the light fades.
The project made its debut in Poitiers, France, for a few days at the end of July. On the first night, artists from the local graffiti collective Painthouse came to test out the possibilities of the new medium. On the second, a younger generation of artists tried their hands. The video, embedded below, was released on Tuesday.