Canadian artist designs bike that sprays water-calligraphy graffiti

Nadine Bells
Good News

Beijing-based Canadian artist Nicholas Hanna has developed a "water calligraphy device," a bike hack that lets the rider paint temporary Chinese poetry on the street while in motion.

He unveiled his design at Beijing Design Week 2011.

This "tricycle calligraphy" was inspired by the Chinese tradition of using water brushes to "paint" wet poetry in public spaces and by the commonly seen form of transportation on Beijing's streets.

"It's more than just communicating information, but also that you can judge the moral character of someone from their handwriting," Hanna says.

Designboom describes how it works:

"Hanna's 'water calligraphy device' uses a computer, mounted on the handlebars, to transmit passages of Chinese literature to an electrical system and array of solenoid valves. Each character is converted into a dot matrix, to which the valves synchronize the release of droplets of water as the tricycle moves forward. Thus as the device moves forward, passages of text appear behind it, only to gradually evaporate just as in traditional water brush painting."