Drones can be used to make deliveries, capture high-quality videos from the sky, and help a farmer herd his sheep. On the flip side, they can also be used to do less impressive things, and now we have something new to add to that growing list: vandalism. A graffiti artist recently scrawled red spray paint across the face of model Kendall Jenner on a prominent Calvin Klein billboard in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood.
Early Wednesday morning, graffiti artist, hacker, and vandal KATSU used a DJI Phantom drone equipped with a can of spray paint to deface Jenner’s face on the large Calvin Klein Jeans billboard located at the intersection of Houston Street and Lafayette Street in New York. The illegal act was caught on camera and shared on YouTube.
Clearly, this opens a door to a potentially unwelcome world for billboard advertisers – and anyone who has reason to fear that a once hard-to-reach place may now be accessible to mischievous vandals with access to the right technology.
KATSU’s defacing of the Calvin Klein billboard is far from a surprise. Last April, he unveiled a spray-paint-wielding drone and the paintings he created with it. At the time, KATSU said one of the reasons he used the drone to paint was to raise awareness of how machines may transform art.
“What does it mean that I’m able to be throwing these strokes up and across a canvas that is 30 feet wide and is suspended 25 feet in the air?” he asked.
At the time, KATSU admitted to pondering the tagging possibilities of this drone: “I do have this little video game-inspired fantasy of lying in my bed, sending my drones out my bedroom window, having them render my tags all over the city and then flying back home to me, like, in my bed.”
It seems he took a step toward realizing that fantasy by tagging Jenner’s face. “It turned out surprisingly well,” he told Wired. “It’s exciting to see its first potential use as a device for vandalism.”
KATSU said he plans to release a user-friendly version of his graffiti drone “very soon.”
On Saturday, Jenner posted an Instagram photo of a new Calvin Klein Jeans billboard in the SoHo location featuring her spray-paint-free face. The caption: “what drone?”