Light Graffiti -- 2012 (week one)

As always, light graffiti has been a HUGE hit with my students the last two weeks.

The first week I introduce Light Graffiti by asking the kids what they know about 'graffiti'.  Generally someone says that it is done with spray paint and that it is illegal.  I tell them that is true, but graffiti can be more than spray paint.  I explain that graffiti is making a permanent mark on a surface that you don't have permission to write on  - and yes it is illegal.  We briefly discuss that some art might look like graffiti but are really murals.  I explain that graffiti can be a mural when the artist is granted permission to do their art on a specific surface.

After discussing graffiti and murals I ask students why they think that LIGHT graffiti might be a popular alternative in the art community.  Some classes get it right away and other classes need a little push.  I will often emphasize the word LIGHT in my sentence again.  How do you think LIGHT graffiti would differ from normal graffiti and why might artists like the alternative?!  ::POP:: ::DING:: the hands shoot up all over the room.  Yes, yes, light won't make any permanent marks on the surface - so it isn't illegal!! 

Next we watch the following two videos that I found on youtube.  I explain that the first one is a commercial and that we will watch it twice -- once for fun and the second time to look for the people creating the light graffiti.  The second video is a tutorial that explains what we need to make our own light graffiti.

1st Video:

2nd Video:

After the videos the students tell me what we need for the day:  colored lights, camera, tripod, and setting settings.  (If there is time at the end of class I explain and show the students the shutter/shutter speed).

Next, I explain that I will call up two students at a time to pick out one or two colored flashlights.  When they are ready they will step inside of the polygon I taped on the floor (yes we really do talk about what a polygon is).  Then I will say "Ready, Set, Go" when I say go they can start moving around for their picture.  When their picture is over I will say something like, "Let's check it out" or "Lets see what it looks like".  The picture is then projected through our projector on the board!  I go on to explain that they will get another turn right away so stay where they are.  I want the students to go twice in a row because they learn SO MUCH from that first picture, that I want to give them a chance to try it again once they get the hang of it.  At this point I break and ask if there are questions - there are generally very few.

Then last, but not least, I ask the class if I have only two kids doing the light graffiti what is everyone else busy doing?!  "Watching" they all say.  I really stress that they need to ACTIVELY watch - as they will learn from each other.  It is safe to say that 99% of my students had never done this before and if they watch each other they get ideas and start to build off of other students movements.  It is really very fascinating.  

Again, I ask for questions - if none we get moving!

Here is a video of some kiddos making their first light graffiti:

Enjoy!  This is a blast at the end of the year!


Katie Morris said...

Question: how do you hook up the camera to the projector so that you can see it right away? I love light painting so this would be fun. You could also look at "reverse graffiti" if you're not familiar. My students were super interested in it.

Ms Novak said...

Most digital cameras come with a video cable. It will plug into your camera either by a headphone type jack or a mini-usb 5pin, then it will have a video (yellow) end to plug into the tv or projector. This will probably change to HDMI cables or something crazy in the next 5 years -- but for now I use the good ol yellow video cables.

I will have to check out reverse graffiti -- sounds really interesting!

Katie Morris said...

Hmmm... I wonder if I have a video cable with my camera.... I'll have to dig through my bag since I never looked for it before. Thanks!

fuglefun said...

This is awesome. What camera requirements/ settings do you need or this? and did you buy special lights?

Ms Novak said...

Fuglefun - you need a camera you can change the shutter speed on. This year I was lucky enough to have a digital SLR to use - however the two years prior to this I used one of the Kodak easy share camers. I scoured the manual to find shutter speed and/aperture and then I did some trial and error till I got the setting just right.

As far as lights - nothing special. In these pictures we used some dollar store LED flashlights and then some wand/led things I got at target for 5 dollars each. Anything that lights up will work - heck even shoes that have flashing lights will work.

Do some experimenting on your own to get the hang of it and then watch the joy of your students as they do the same.

dmasse said...

wow! these are fantastic! i may try this the first week as an introduction to line:)

dmasse said...

Hi there!
So I tried this out today and the kids loved it. I linked back to your post. You did such a great job explaining the process and providing examples.
Thanks for the inspiration:)

Jo @ BIG kids Mag said...

Very cool! We found you via Shine Brite Zamorano and love this light work! Especially as we are heading 'Into The Dark' with our next edition of www.bigkidsmagazine.com
Great work :)

Miss said...

So fun and cool- can't wait to try it! Thanks for sharing!

Ms Novak said...

Jo @ BIG kids Mag -- Your magazine sounds fabulous and light graffiti would be a perfect submission for your next publication!