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Don Relyea : Digital Graffiti

In Art, Feature, News on June 14, 2009 at 3:35 pm


– “Generative Flowers III 003451” by Don Relyea –



– “Generative Flowers 003124” by Don Relyea –


Generative Flowers III @ Digital Graffiti 2009

by Don Relyea


I’ve just returned from a fabulous outdoor arts festival held at Alys Beach, Florida.  The festival, called Digital Graffiti, is an annual event created as the world’s first outdoor projection art festival.  Still in its infancy, it’s now in its second year.

The arts festival is situated in the environmentally friendly, master-planned resort community or Alys; a place where the buildings are white; echoing the beautifully, white sands of North Florida’s “Panhandle.”  The white-walled architecture of the town lends itself perfectly to a big outdoor video festival, where video projections are cast on the sides of buildings like graffiti.

The Digital Graffiti festival encompasses most of the Alys beach community, and is set up so that you can follow a general path through the town, ending up at the Caliza pool; the epicenter of the party.  About every 50 ft. there’s a new piece projected up on the walls.  Mixed in with the visual art, a variety of DJ’s and music could be heard playing.

Generative Flowers III is a computational ensemble that I created for the Digital Graffiti festival.  This series is intended to be a celebration of life. It draws flowers from grey scale alpha channels and then feeds back on itself. Environmentalist Mark Charneski, who works for the EPA, contributed the magnificent flower photos and scans, from which the alpha channels were extracted.

The Generative Flowers III algorithm creates a mathematical variant of the Cantor Set. Though, flowers are innate, naturally occurring mathematical expressions, which work very well with the Cantor Set effect. The geometric progression of the Cantor Set is symbolic to me of the natural progression of life.


– “Generative Flowers III 002879” by Don Relyea –

Digital Graffiti featured a fine selection of artist, like John Daniel, the creator of “JD’s Funhouse.”  Tucked into a niche on the entrance path, this installation was one of my favorites   I heard it was programmed on a Mac and included interactive fire, laser and fun house mirror effects that the viewer could interact with in real time.  JD’s Funhouse was a delightful piece that my kids spent a lot of time playing with.  And not surprisingly, it won the “Audience Favorite” prize of the show.

Another piece of note is “Afterburner” created by Gwen Vanhee.  It seems I had seen Gwen’s work somewhere else before, but the “Afterburner” projection piece took on a different dimension once spashed against a multi-storied, big white building.  Shantell Martin, the festival’s featured VJ, was another favorite. She draws on a tablet syncopated with live music.  Her style is spontaneous, fun and quirky.  She melted the heart of my 4 year old Ryan, who now wants to Shantell to be his wife.

As far as video festivals go, this one was by far the most engaging and fun shows I’ve ever attended.  I expect Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach to continue to grow each year, and I definitely plan to enter my work again next time around.

Here is a link to Wired Magazine’s coverage of the event and below are some additional links of interest:

Afterburner by Gwen Vanhee

JD’s Funhouse

Shantell Martin

Press photos of Alys Beach – 2008

Digital Graffiti website

Good background post on how it all started


AD Mag thanks Don for sharing his Digital Graffiti experience.  View more of Don’s artwork in our Artist Galleries and on his official homepage.

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