Peregrine Church, a street artist based in Seattle, has created an exciting hybrid of traditional high-brow graffiti and an scientifically updated version of the invisible ink of yesteryear. Church uses superhydrophobic coatings on a canvas of cement sidewalks to create hidden words and images that stay invisible until they get wet. Calling the art ‘Rainworks,’ Church is using the same formula that became famous when it was employed in Germany to fight public urination (in what is surely one of the most hilariously well-thought-out civic improvement campaigns ever conceived).
Church creates his artwork on a whim and at will since he has been assured by the authorities in Seattle that what he is doing is legal since the chemical he employs is non-toxic, leaves no permanent mark, is only sometimes visible, and because his artwork does not advertise anything. As a result, he has a free pass to mark up the city as he pleases. According to Church, his images can last anywhere from four to twelve months depending on how much foot traffic the individual sidewalk sees in that time. The images are most vivid during the first few weeks after the superhydrophobic coating is applied, however.
His works run the gamut from traditionally artistic drawings to fun or motivation messages for passing pedestrians. He’s even created a hop-scotch game that can only be played in the rain!
Church has played with the concept of water and wetness by covering a patch of sidewalk with the silhouettes of swimming frogs and floating lily pads. Thus, Church takes a patch of dry land and creates the illusion of a lush pond in the middle of downtown Seattle.
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