A well-known graffiti artist has used a DJI drone to deface Kendall Jenner's face on one of New York City's most viewed billboards.
There are a lot of concerns that drones, or rather unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), can be put up to no good in the hands of civilians, whether it be spying on people or used as flying bombs to attack important locations like the White House.
However, sometimes people just want to use drones to express themselves or make a point, like graffiti artist KATSU, who decided to "tag" a giant billboard in order to prove that graffiti artists could now make their mark on anything they like.
Jenner is currently the face of a Calvin Klein Jeans ad campaign and her face adorns a giant billboard that is about six stories high, located at the busy intersection of Houston St and Lafayette St in New York City.
KATSU, who succeeded in rigging up a drone to spray paint white canvases at an art gallery in 2014, flew a DJI Phantom 2 drone high up in the air over the ad and used a modified controller that allowed him to trigger the spray can, while keeping the UAV in the air.
The whole stunt took less than a minute, and KATSU told Wired that "it turned out surprisingly well," admitting that the situation had been tense as he had needed to complete the student without the police noticing.
In fact, the stunt was meant to show off KATSU's prototype for a graffiti drone he plans to release commercially, but he admitted that the controls are still quite temperamental, particularly when the drone is perpendicular to the wall or surface it needs to paint.
"Seventy percent of the concentration is in maintaining this equilibrium with the two dimensional surface while you are painting," he said.
KATSU gained his reputation by becoming one of the most prolific and interesting vandals in New York in the 1990s, and is well known for having pioneered the fire extinguisher spray can which lets him tag walls and create art at a much greater magnitude.
Apart from being a tinkerer, he is also interested in the digital world, and he collaborated with the free technology collective F.A.T Lab in 2013 in order to put his graffiti into the popular computer game Minecraft, as well as creating fake videos that make it look like he "tagged" both the White House and a Picasso painting.
When he demonstrated how he could spray paint canvases in April 2014, he told Vice that he wanted to explore how a person and a drone could connect.
"Basically, drones have lowered in cost enough that they are attainable, so I got my hands on some DJI Phantom 2s, and I have been experimenting with the idea of using drones to accomplish the same things that drones are beginning to be used for in broader society, but in this case for crime, vandalism, art," he said.
"As an artist and a graffiti writer, I want to push to make the drone a tool that I can use, but it's also a bit of a statement. You know, I hope that I put enough of the elements together so that I can release this thing soon, in all its open-sourceness, to allow graffiti writers and other artists around the world to rapidly start experimenting and iterating this and start playing with it."