© Vaivoda / Shutterstock.com

Control the Writing On the Wall

  December 27, 2017

By Naomi Millán

This holiday season, light projectors have continued to trend as a way to paint building facades with cascades of tiny lights. As LEDs have evolved, a technology that was once fairly pricey is now inexpensive enough to be fodder for an "As Seen on TV" product.

The evolution of projection technology has also made a more problematic kind of projection readily achievable: light graffiti. Local laws protecting facilities from such intrusions on their property are typically designed to address physical intrusion or physical alteration of the property. But unlike conventional graffiti and other messaging media such as posters, light graffiti is not affixed to a property nor does it damage the physical structure. With enough power, the projector would not even have to be on the property's footprint. This leaves facility managers with little legal recourse.

Projectors powerful enough to paint the side of a commercial facility with an image or phrase are now small, portable, and easy to buy. Though the specs vary based on the facility and the image, in general a 7000-lumen projector that can plug into the charger port on a car will do the trick. And there is ready instruction available on the Web on how to create light graffiti, also called "projection bombing."

From some tips offered to would-be light graffiti artists on how to create good projections, facility managers can start to pull together a tool kit for how to combat such an intrusion on their property. Ideal facades have a bright surface color, little glass, and low ambient lighting. Facility managers can do little about their facade color or composition, but knowing which facades might be targeted is a good thing to keep in mind.

Since there's likely little facility managers can do to remove an unwanted projector trained on their building, one response strategy could be to paint the facade with a high-powered white wall wash. Tunable wall washes with extremely powerful LEDs are available, so a facility might be able to have a pre-programmed mode where the LEDs blast bright white light on the facade, washing out or completely obliterating the projected image or message. However, blasting bright lights all the time is not a good idea because of light pollution concerns, among others, and care should always be taken with powerful light sources to protect onlookers from harm.

This Quick Read was submitted by Naomi Millán, senior editor, Building Operating Management. If you have experienced light graffiti at your facility or already have anti-light-graffiti strategies in place, please share your thoughts in the comments below.


Read next on FacilitiesNet