Digital Calligraffiti 2017, Germany, Berlin

Digital Calligraffiti - a responsive urban media art platform for community building

Digital Calligraffiti is a new form of intercultural exchange that combines the traditional art form of calligraphy and graffiti with today’s possibilities of responsive urban media art. It has initially been developed to give young refugees living in Berlin a public stage to share their messages and view on current topics. The participatory projection format gives a chance to all social groups to freely share their wishes and visions co-created with the artistic guidance of renowned calligraffiti artists facilitated by the Inl3ctor which is an interactive light to project the messages in a realtime performance on urban screes and walls of our cities and transform urban screens and walls into a canvas of storytelling and free expression.

Digital Calligraffiti is a community project and an artistic campaign on public screens that endeavours to contribute to the integration of migrating cultures. It was originally developed to invite representatives of the migrating cultures to the 'Digital Calligraffity Camp' to exchange with traditional calligraphers, calligraffiti and urban media artists by investigating the question of sharing values: Where/How is the future that we dreamed of yesterday? What cultural values do people with migration background want to preserve from decaying and integrate to the way they live today? Which messages do we wish to 'write beautifully' and pass on, and which aesthetic forms are at our disposal in a time, where our language is almost exclusively digital. In a co-design process the participants of the migrating cultures have learned how to draw calligraffiti and animate the analogue creation of the calligraffiti artworks for the artistic campaigning on the digital infrastructure of the urban screens of Berlin under the guiding principle 'urban screens are our canvas!' The Infl3ctor enables a live visualization of all those ideas and emotions. It is an interactive light table - especially designed for Digital Calligraffiti by the media artists Michael Ang and Hamza Abu Ayyash - to project the calligraffiti messages on the urban screens of Berlin an also to distant cities through networked scenarios. In a time where the refugees’ transportation is a burning matter this projects opens up new avenues of communication empowering at least the transportation of thoughts.


Building or project owner : The project is initiated by Public Art Lab in cooperation with From Home to Fame Publishing and the artists Michale Ang and Hamza Abu Ayyash

Project artist/ concept/ design/ planning : The project is initiated by Public Art Lab in cooperation with From Home to Fame Publishing and the artists Michale Ang and Hamza Abu Ayyash

Structural engineering : Michael Ang

Display content/ visuals/ showreel : Public Art Lab in collaboration with calligraffiti artists

Interaction design/ programming : Michael Ang, Hamza Abu Ayyash

Project sponsor/ support : European Union / Creative Europe Program


Facade type and geometry (structure) : Projection or urban screens

Kind of light creation : projected light painting and drawing (calligraffiti) facilitated by the Inflector which is an interactive light table for realtime drawing

Resolution and transmitting behaviour : high resolution

Pixel distance : projection

Urban situation : Digital Calligraffiti can be adapted to any urban social context.

Description of showreel : Digital Calligraffiti is interactive projection performance that provides a platform for realtime writing and drawing meaningful statements by the citizens facilitated by calligraffiti artists and the interactive light table called Infl3ctor. It can also create a networked projection performance between differnet venues / cities when an inl3ctor is set up in two places.

Participatory architecture & urban interaction

Community or communities involved : Digital Calligraffiti was originally developed for the migrating 'newcomers' in Berlin. However it can provide a platform for all social groups (including children) and can also facilitate a translocal dialogue beyond physical borders. The written statements from two cities will 'meet' on the projections wall / screen and are visualised through different colours.

Host organization : Public Art Lab

Legal form : non-profit association

Issues addressed : - providing a participatory platform for civic engagement - encouraging citizens to give statements to social relevant issues - giving a voice to socially disadvantaged people - learning to writte calligraffiti tags as an aethetic form - creating a translocal dialoge between different venues / cities / cultural worlds - creating a sitation of shared encounters - reclaiming screens with calligraffiti statements with a high outreach in the cities' everyday life - generating an artistic ecosystem from the co-design process in workshops / interactive public performance s/ reclaiming screens with the morst meaningful statements (urban media art campaigning with a 30 sec trailer) / translocal dialogue through networked performances / designing T-Shirts with the best messages

Impact : Digital Caligraffiti is a good showcase for an urban art project that can contribute politically and socially meaningful messages on large scale digital infastructures with a high outreach to create awareness for emmergent themes of our daily urban life.

Tools developed : - a cross-disciplinary format of analogue drawing and technically mediated art - adaptable tool for different social contexts - interactive light table (Infl3ctor) connected to a computer with VJ software connected to a beamer or screen

Tools used : - Infl3ctor an interactive urban interface

Next steps : Digital Calligraffiti is invited workdwide to different frameworks as a civic platform for engagement and translocal exchange


Picture: Public Art Lab

photos: Ruthe Zuntz

Public Art Lab

Film: Jara Balonga