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New vanishing graffiti 'paints' air with light

IT was a Sunday night, hot and humid. But the plaza of Yu Fashion Garden, a new shopping center in the Yuyuan Garden area, was crowded with tourists and residents. Children were running around, screaming.

Right in front of the musical fountain, William Zhou started to prepare for his work. On Saturday and Sunday through September 4, Zhou and five other young people, who name themselves as Reload Crew, give "light graffiti" performances and encourage the audience to light up. Shows by one of the city's oldest graffiti communities run from 7-10pm.

Graffiti, that spray paint scourge on walls, is now created with different kinds and colors of light sources and time-lapse photography.

It's creative, squeaky-clean and easier than one might think. According to Zhou, the materials are an assortment of lights, such as torches, light bulbs, glowsticks, LED lights, candles, and a camera with a bulb shutter. A tripod ensures best results. Exposure should be set between 10 and 30 seconds, but artists experiment to find the right exposure that captures their images "painted" in the air.

The idea is to paint the air.

No one can see what the artist draws as he or she moves the hand, but the camera captures the streak or flare of light that shows up on film.

"Light graffiti is the newest trend in graffiti art," Zhou says. "Compared with traditional graffiti, it is more environmental friendly - once the light has faded only people who see the photos will know it was ever there. It leaves no mess. There is no vandalism involved."

It is also easy to pick up and practice. No art background or particular skills are required. But the words must be painted in reverse in the air.

Artists can also interact with their art and get into the picture.

Zhou and his team encourage people to "start with something easy," like a heart shape, a candle, Expo mascot Haibao and words like "Expo 2010." They give out free homemade light sources using unusual materials and lights. Ideal materials can be difficult to find in local markets, so Zhou and others create light sources made of LED strips that shine even against a bright background, such as the lighted musical fountain at Yuyuan Garden.

As police and urban maintenance officers crack down on painting graffiti, light graffiti is becoming more popular, though it lacks the alluring quality of permanence and work that everyone can see.

Everyone is welcome, even those without cameras. The organizer has invited professional photographers to take pictures on site for participants. Those who take cameras can get instructions on using them.

For more information and to post light graffiti, check out Ten awards will be handed out based on votes of online viewers.

Date: Saturday and Sunday, through September 4, 7-10pm

Address: 168 Fangbang Rd M.

Tel: 6137-9990


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