GVJ08 from XPLOITEC on Vimeo.

With all the coverage of guerrilla projection and projection mapping outdoors, last week I asked the CDM community what safety and legal considerations came into play with this work. It’s well worth reading through the full comment thread:

Can Mobile Projection Get You in Trouble? How Do You Plan?

Some of the highlights:

  • Generally, while projection is only light, the use of the building face is considered the use of private property – this seems to be true around the world.
  • Some countries even have specific legal restrictions on commercial use or projection in general. (Some localities require specific permits.)
  • Highways are a primary concern; being near a roadway is considered a safety issue.
  • In true guerrilla fashion, a lot of you tend for the hit-and-run approach – and find that, so long as you stay clear of the roadways, few complain.
  • Because digital projection often references graffiti, people may see it as such – even though it leaves no permanent mark.

My favorite quote, from Riley: “I got stopped and interrogated by the police, not for the projections, but because they saw the glow of the laptop screens on our face. They thought we were looking at child porn on open wifi.”

More comments after the jump, including stories from the designers of the beautiful outdoor and guerrilla work featured in the videos here.

// LA VALLA TRÀNSFUGA from hector agusti capdevila on Vimeo.

Eloi Maduell of Telenoika writes (see the beautiful Valla Transfuga above):

Here in Spain we’ve been doing "visual attacks" as we call it from 2005 and never got a serious problem. In fact one of our motivation to do so was to know which law could be applied to us in this cases. What we get to know is [as some others mentioned above] :

  • if it’s close to a driven way, it could distract drivers and cause accidents. if by bad luck something tragic happens they could come to you.
  • if you’re projecting into someone else building, just the owners of the building could call the police for it. In Barcelona it’s understood somehow as painting a graffiti on the wall [even you leave no trace] it’s kind of a using private property without permission. But usually you always need to have a denunce from the building owner.
  • in Barcelona dynamic publicity is still not permitted, so that’s why many LED-ed building can’t show they visual games …
  • we always work as a guerrilla and we always plan who is going to talk to the police, who’s gonna hide the latptop and run away … etc . We love to do it fast and hard … We don’t want to play visuals on street, but use video projections to communicate, shout and talk about what’s not on TV …

Here some examples of our works :
// Transgenick Attack
>Talking about risks of GMO projected on the walls of supermarkets. All materials recorded inside the supermarkets the day before.
// La Valla Transfuga
> Reusing an advertisment poster which was forgoten one side of a road. We give live again to this with a full day of audiovisual poetry, all made in-site.
// Rehabilitació
> Talking about the urbanistic speculation [big sport in Spain] and the mooving which old people is pushed out of their houses to make new buildings. Created by Sala/v school.
// Stop the War on Gaza
Reports of massive demonstrations on the streets of Barcelona to shout : Stop War on Gaza. Later 2008.
// This Crisis is not ours
Demonstration on Barcelona streets to shout against the created financial crisis … The crisis is for banks and the system, not for people …
We always use some kind of mobile [supermarket kart, or bike+kart to transport stuff] and we get power from generators.

From the guerrilla perspective, here’s heikki r of xploitec:

For our Guerrilla VJ Unit (a van with two dynamos [or whatcha call these thingies that charge the car batteries], one for the van and another for bigger batteries running the beamers), we had to declare to the police the driven route and got a recommendation to not go to the centre of the city.

This happened in Helsinki, Finland in conjuntion to us participating on a festival focused on street/youth culture.
Apart from this, we’ve never been had to face this.

Still, what struck me as kind of prejudice, or a preset mindframe or whatever, was that at the same time the national broadcasting company (with whatever other parties involved) was allowed to temporarily to put up a rather big and bright (like 100 to 1 compared to our light power) led screen in the middle of the busiest downdown crossing to promote the European singing contest and blaze out colorful motion graphics on it night and day.

The notice we got from the police said that us beaming out of our van creates a danger scenario where the car drivers as well as the pedestrians too are ‘hypnotized’.

As a side notion just the general light coming from the beamers (in the car) was considered to possiblly momentarily blind people. Unlike the headlights of our van or other cars.

Same as
with anything yet unexperienced this just seems to be a transition phase into a society where this’ll turn into an everyday experience rather than the novelty it still seems to be.

Well, i guess that any recent film set in the near future illustrates, and thus possibly also makes it more probable too, the use of moving imagery in public space. To an excess to underline media power or this or that.

2penny documentation of these activities if bored at work:

I’m actually pleasantly surprised that the Americans seem to have comparatively few problems, perhaps thanks to our more spread-out Yankee landscape.

That said, detronik has a nice comment that I think really gets at the heart of what this can mean as a social/political activity in the city:

Here in the streets of Detroit things can be perceived quite differently at night. Detroit’s streets can be very volatile and my concern is not impairing drivers perception but keeping a watch out for overzealous authorities, police gang squad, homeland security, and possible carjackers. Detroit has been in quite a turbulent state, so much of my imagery is relative to social identity. I have been doing what I call Vision Assaults for some time now. I equipped my ford escape with a fairly high lumen LCD beamer and a high wattage inverter so as to mobilize the projection. I have no plate on the vehicle but opted for a temporary plate in the window so nobody can get my plate easily. I have one window masked off so I can start my projector, warm it up, then when the time and place is in range, I open the window to launch the image upon the target. It has been most effective, however I have had quite a few close calls including two police pursuits and a few street chases from unfavorable opportunists.

All of this illustrates to me why it is important to sometimes escape the shelter of clubs and galleries. Even the challenges these artists face are deeply connected to the way in which they interact with the social texture of the city. I look forward to hearing other experiences.