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When water meets technology: Waterlight Graffiti makes its way to Aotearoa

What happens when you combine water, electricity and a form of art? The Waterlight Grafitti installation. The interactive piece, which will be in Aotea Square for the month of August, is a collision between a natural element – water – and technology – LED lights, allowing people to create lit-up, eco-friendly grafitti using liquid.

The installation is made up of thousand of LED lights, which illuminate when they come into contact with water. It works by water creating an electrical bridge that brings the power required to light up the LED embedded under the surface of the screen. The wetter it is, the brighter it gets.

Observers can use anything damp – from a paintbrush, to a sponge, to their fingertips – and draw directly onto the screen, which then lights up in response to that touch. The message or drawing will stay until the water dries, then it disappears.

It's intended to be a 'eco-friendly' version of grafitti, as it's temporary appearance means surfaces aren't defaced.

The critically acclaimed project was created by French artist Antonin Fourneau as part of a research project on water sensitive materials and their use in architecture. After being showcased worldwide, from New York's Design Week to a season at the EPM Water Museum in Colombia, the installation has now made its way to New Zealand for the month of August and is free to look at in Aotea Square. 

"Waterlight Graffiti’s purpose is to be a new kind of reactive material to draw or write ephemeral messages made of light. This project enables anyone to graffiti the wall of LEDs with a basic environment-friendly atomizer. To use water, which has neither shape nor colour, to draw light, is a magical experience, regardless of the public age or its artistic sensibility. This opportunity finally becomes a new kind of interaction with urban architecture. By mixing a natural element and technology, Waterlight Graffiti’s users can even play with the weather or the evaporation speed for example," the Waterlight website says. 

Antonin is also the 2017 France / New Zealand Te Ataata Creative Technologies Artist in Residence at AUT Colab and will be running a series of workshops in partnership with AUT and Semi Permanent, sharing his insights into the creative, design and development process of the work. 

The installation will be open every day from 3 – 21 August until 10.30pm.