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Tabloid Graffiti - HD Stencils
2013 - Ongoing - Spray paint on canvas.

This project combines the parodying of celebrity culture and an innovative technique of graffiti art, using high resolution (HD) stencils. The stencils are digitally generated by a simple code, printed with laser cutters, to then be used with regular spray paint.

Tabloid Graffiti mocks popular gossip magazine covers, using derisive words for headlines and original photos from popular celebrity tabloids, such as People, Us Weekly, and OK!. Deploying this misappropriated content against itself, Tabloid Graffiti infiltrates the language that fuels celebrity-obsessed culture as a strategy for subverting its imagination. This undermines the relentless onslaught of celebrity media coverage, while introducing the idea of Celebrity Piracy in art and activism practices through exploiting its economy of popular names and faces.

High Definition Stencils - How It Works
This is a painting technique rendered with special stencils and spray paint, that begins with the use of custom-made software and laser cutters, using four channels as in subtractive color printing. Once printed, the stencils have the potential be used on a range of surfaces, from small pieces of paper to walls of buildings.

Each element of a given image begins as a PSD file so that it can be split into four channels, CMYK, for subtractive color printing. The individual channels are then saved as four JPGs, inverted in negative for each color channel of the image.

A custom-made software script in Processing transforms the JPGs into PDF vector files, ready to be used with the laser cutter. The script in Processing draws a vector grid of tiny holes, which never overlap, and their scale corresponds to the luminance of the pixels from the initial JPG. Through the settings in the script, it is also possible to determine the shape of of the pinholes (circle, triangle, square, star, etc.), regulate the resolution of the grid of the stencil by changing the density, and the maximum and minimum size of the pinholes. Once the PDF is printed through the laser cutter, the resulting stencil is ready to be sprayed. Four stencils will need to be cut from each initial JPG to recreate a full-color painting.

The size of the JPGs, in centimeters or inches, will be the actual final size of the PDFs and of the physical stencil; therefore, size should be taken into consideration for the laser cutter and for printing on various surfaces. The DPI of the source JPGs will only slightly affect the resolution of the stencil, but not the size; so, even low resolution JPGs (72 DPI) will produce a high quality HD stencil. These notes about the DPI should be considered taken from preliminary experiments.

With the four resulting stencils, each layer is applied in order of the abbreviation of the channels, spraying the stencils in order of color: first, Cyan; second Magenta; third, Yellow; and last, Black. White background surfaces yield the best results.

The stencils are keyed so that the layers and the offset align, resulting in a full-color image painted on any surface. This is facilitated through the template of the PDF with alignment holes cut by the laser cutter at the same position for each layer.

Press material
- Download the software script in Processing and the examples to make your own HD stencils.
- README file manual

The script in Processing as well as the Technique HD Stencils invented and created for this project are released in Open Source with Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially as long as they credit the artist Paolo Cirio and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Pictures of the first prototype

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