Digital Graffiti – A Subculture Conquers Interactive Worlds

Finally I delivered my thesis project I did in cooperation with Less Rain. The subject was »Digital Graffiti – A Subculture Conquers Interactive Worlds« and it’s all about experimenting with different input devices for a physical, digital graffiti installation. The result is an Adobe AIR application using either the computer mouse, the Nintendo Wiimote or »VandalSpray« to paint digital canvases. VandalSpray is a digital spray can specifically designed for this purpose. It implements the attributes of a real spray can or at least trys to achieve them as natural as possible. Except a turnable bottom for changing the color, VandalSpray has no other interfacing elements than its real counterpart and therefore you don’t have to learn and explore the functionality first, because you intuitively know how to use it.

VandalSpray features includes:

  • exchangeable caps
  • color display
  • digital valve system to vary the amount of »paint« coming out of the cap
  • different colors
  • wireless

The spray can is built upon the Arduino platform and uses different sensors and electronic modules like a RFID reader, a super bright RGB LED, a Rotary Encoder, a Bluetooth module, a force sensitive resitor (FSR) and loads of wires and solder to implement the desired behavior. For tracking the spray can I use a Wiimote and the WiiFlash ActionScript 3 library and server, but this could also be replaced by a standard webcam and an adequate tracking implementation.
Because I didn’t want to put some kind of speaker in the spray can (there was no space left anyway) the spray sound is generated from the AIR app and output on the speakers of the notebook.

VandalSpray vs. Montana spray can

VandalSpray electronics


22 Responses (Add Your Comment)

  1. Hi Im an ex-graffer who has allways loved the idea of something like this. Is there anyway you could put a vid or some pics of it in use, Id really like to see it.

  2. Good post.

    Have a read on a recent article on light graffiti we wrote that may interest you.

  3. @PAEz
    some pics or a video will follow, I just didn’t have the time to do one. checkout my rss feeds and you won’t miss it!

  4. Martin, I am contacting you because I had a very similar idea to do this and I am fascinated to see it has already been done (great minds think alike).

    The only difference was I wanted to implement IR LED in the nozzle and use IR tracking (such as Touchlib used for MT) to track the nozzle tip on the surface. I think that would give more of a feel of painting the canvas directly from the can.

    Would you be interested in collaborating on a mod of your existing system?

  5. HI GUYS
    how surprised was i when discovered few minute ago the idea i am working on for some days already exists. based on the research of johnny lee ( and something see on, my ideas was to combine those technology for a low-cost solution. I have, me too,as justin , the idea of using IR LED in the “spray” with wiimote extern location instead of wiimote system included in the spray(because potentially more portable, smaller etc…)
    Martin i find your realisation really advanced, with amovible cap etc.. but, by instance, as i found out your project while searching a paint-leaking action script (wich don’t seam exist in your realisation), i think the Justin’s idea about some collaboration should be nice. more peoplee could means more ideas….

    hoping for an answer really soon..

  6. @justin
    I was thinking about putting the IR LED in the nozzle as well, but the downside of this would be to loose the feature of the exchangeable caps which is one of the coolest things of my spray can implementation and in fact there is not so much difference in having the LED in the nozzle or just a little bit under it. The real problem is the optical tracking itself.

    i’m not really sure what you mean with “paint-leaking action script (which don’t seam exist in your realisation)”.

  7. great work!
    though, looks like tons of space in the can for speakers…

  8. This is great but I’d like to see the application to try – is that possible please? I’m looking to build a simple graffiti wall for a youth event.

  9. I think this is excellent. I’m working on something very similar for my degree project and am struggling to come up with results as good as these. If you could send on any plans, notes or resources you used that would be brilliant.


  10. thx for site it is very nice :))

  11. Hello Flaviu!I might be able to help you, but I need to know what kind of sensors you have. Is it a comeinbd temperature, humidity and pressure sensor or are they separate? You need to find the part/model numbers. My temperature sensor is a DS18S20 digital temperature sensor.


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Martin Rädlinger is an Interactive Developer & Designer. He specializes in interactive coding predominantly with ActionScript, but every new challenge is welcome. If you like his work feel free to get in touch with him. At the moment he's available for freelance work.


Martin Rädlinger
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