Graffiti art is ascendant, buoyed and legitimized by years of insinuation into the mainstream and six figure auction sales. As with all things modern, even this most primitive of art forms - kids with spray cans and illegal access to brick walls started this whole thing – is now being aided by technology. Based in New York City, the Graffiti Research Lab’s ( mission statement is: “Dedicated to outfitting graffiti artists with open source technologies for urban communication”. One of their most popular and populist projects to date has been the development of the LED Throwie, known also as the QTD (kew-tee-dee, get it?). A device so simple as to almost not deserve the name, the Throwie consists of a bright diffuse LED, a three volt flat lithium battery and a small rare earth magnet, all held together by strapping tape. The parts are cheap enough in bulk that each Throwie can cost as little at thirty cents and anybody can assemble them in a minute or so. Once you have assembled enough of these, then it’s time to gather a few friends, find the nearest piece of ferrous metal, and create your own softly glowing urban constellation. If you are more enterprising, you can also fashion a flat Styrofoam holder at the end of a long pole to hold your Throwies in a pattern forming a picture or word, and use it to place the Throwies en masse against a flat metal surface – instant political statement.

I live in Boston and I know that these days the notion of using electronics to do guerrilla art in our fair city is probably not the most popular thing after the fiasco with the Aqua Teen Hunger Force promotion sent all of our brave public servants into over reactive paranoia mode (with reason, some would say). Throwies are so small however, that even the most delusional T (local slang for subway) rider could not mistake them for a bomb. The batteries only last a few days and of course the Throwies are easily removed, which is more than can be said of other street art. has detailed instructions, parts list and mail order sources for Throwie parts (search for “LED Throwies”) or you can head down to your local electronics supply store to get the parts, there is one in every large city. In the Boston metro area one of my favorite places, You-Do-It Electronics ( Needham carries all the parts listed at Instructables.

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