Look up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s graffiti!

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Graffiti Geeks Strike: Virtual Vandalism Taught at N.Y. College
By Austin Fenner
New York Post
May 12, 2007

It’s new-school graffiti – and it’s being taught in college.

The elite Parsons New School for Design is offering a college course that employs modern, computer-graphic lighting techniques to give a new twist to the ghetto-inspired art form.

But the class has already garnered hardcore foes who gripe that it’s destined to still create vandalism.


The Parsons course is called “Geek Graffiti” and is offered as part of the Master’s program.

To its artists, aerosol cans of spray paint and the subway cars they might have once targeted are so 20th century.

The techniques taught allow them to instead virtually, rather than literally, put their names on Mount Rushmore and on the George Washington Bridge.

One new-graffiti artist’s ultimate dream, for example, was realized when he used computers and neon blue lights to project a towering image of himself, writing his tag “Jeff” and “Jesus Saves,” across the majestic backdrop of the Washington Square Park arch.

The course – taught by former star student and now college instructor Evan Roth – also has graffiti writers quickly writing temporary, laser-light tags against the top of flat brick buildings in SoHo and DUMBO.

The concept is part of the thesis project by Roth called “Graffiti Analysis.”

In the course’s description, Roth challenges his students to be outrageous in their creative graffiti effort. He even offers a guaranteed “A” in the course if any news organization covered their project.

He created his incredible images using motion tracking, computer-vision technology and a custom application to record and analyze a graffiti writer’s pen movement.

These gestures are processed to produce algorithmically generated digital projections that appear in motion on the surfaces of the buildings, according to a Parson’s Web page.

Roth was out of the country and unable to be reached for comment yesterday. A school spokesperson declined to comment on the course.

The course is infuriating some traditional graffiti foes.

“They want to study what the motivation is behind graffiti writers,” fumed city Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. of Queens. “It’s vandalism, notoriety and gang communication. That is the motivation behind graffiti. No one needs a course to study it.

“This fascination with graffiti really needs to end,” he added.

Last week, former graffiti artist turned clothing mogul Marc Ecko forced Vallone to back down on a lawsuit that challenged a law the councilman had passed making it illegal for anyone under 21 to carry graffiti instruments.

“We felt it was not going well, so we withdrew our opposition to [Ecko’s] challenge,” Vallone said. Vallone had apparently angered Ecko, whose real name is Marc Milescofsky, after an employee, who is also a graffiti artist with the name “Ket,” had been arrested.

“He was doing massive graffiti,” said Vallone.

© 2007 New York Post