John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The Tagtool app may cost an arm and a leg, but the results are weirdly fantastic.
There's not much that would make a hardcore tagger give up on spray cans. But if anything had a chance at luring paint-stained street artists to a new medium, it might be Tagtool.
The iPad app, currently retailing for an eyebrow-raising $39.99, promises to open up a "new universe of animated art." In this case, it's a universe where the planets are made of pure peyote and giant unblinking eyes roam deep space, a crazy realm you might want to stuff right back inside Pandora's box.
The app lets artists swipe around their fingers to paint vivid, thick-stroked scenes, and then animate them to wondrous effect. A Wi-Fi feature allows multiple painters to doodle around on the same canvas. But the black magic really comes in if you have a projector. Then you can hook it up to your iPad and blanket a building with head-spinning graffiti cinema.
Take a look at how a couple of Tagtool practitioners light up an abandoned industrial site next to Vienna's Cemetery of the Nameless. If you saw this bubbling mass of colors and shapes turning 'round a corner at night, would you hunker down to watch or run like the devil's snapping at your feet?