SWEATSHOPPE is a duo with yet another approach to the idea of performing street art for video. SWEATSHOPPE’s approach to street art may remind some people of Graffiti Research Lab’s L.A.S.E.R. Tag project. The duo uses special light up “rollers” as the equivalent to GRL’s lasers to paint a video projection onto a wall in any shape that they might desire. In the early versions of SWEATSHOPPE performances, that was pretty much it. Now, they can also layer different videos on top of one another with their roller, remixing and mashing up their imagery in real time.
While SWEATSHOPPE are sometimes booked to perform at art events, the performances that they do on their own are not seen live by many people, and they aren’t meant to be. Instead, these independent performances are filmed and edited together, with the resulting videos released online. Bruno Levy, half of SWEATSHOPPE, says that they do not consider what they do to be close to graffiti at all, since graffiti is about mark-making and they are performing, but, he says, they went outside because they needed to perform on walls larger than they had access to indoors. For SWEATSHOPPE, making videos of their work was necessary because otherwise nobody would see it, and they wanted to get jobs performing as SWEATSHOPPE, which the videos have helped them do.
One thing that SWEATSHOPPE enjoy about people seeing their work is the “what the hell” moment that many viewers have, which Levy believes can happen when the occasional person does stumble across a piece as it is being performed outside, or through the videos, but he thinks that’s a bit harder to get at scheduled performances. When SWEATSHOPPE are booked to perform somewhere, the audience generally has some idea of what they are about to see, and Levy thinks that can dull the experience somewhat.
SWEATSHOPPE’s videos take place on the street and the actions of the SWEATSHOPPE performers emulate graffiti writers and street artists, but really it’s a demonstration of art combining with a generally unfamiliar technology, and that could take place anywhere. But by sharing it on the web, SWEATSHOPPE have been able to touch people in the same way that street art and graffiti can touch people, and get some work for themselves in the process. For SWEATSHOPPE, it is clear that the web is where they have been able to reach the largest audience, the same sort of audience that street artists are trying to reach when they put up wheatpastes in the same alleyways where SWEATSHOPPE performs or release videos on the same video platforms.