For nearly four years since Special Special opened, the metal gate that comes down over the front door every evening at closing time, has been left as a blank canvas to the street. This was not the result of a lack of ideas; perhaps, it was due to an overabundance of them. However, no opportunity seemed a more appropriate occasion to extend the invitation for fresh gate painting than when we heard of Che-Wei Wang's new painting tool.
The artist was featured in the group exhibition Artists’ Tools (March 12 —August 31, 2020) and makes up one half of CW&T, a Brooklyn based design studio, run by Che-Wei and his partner, Taylor Levy.
Wang invented the Dot Blaster 8000 tool during COVID-19 quarantine in Spring 2020. Inspired by wheat pasting street artists and the Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara, Wang used prototypes of the tool to paint the date everyday in the streets. Soon, he was creating more complex designs.
Painted designs produced by the tool, can be pre-programmed by uploading bitmap images with an exact height of eight pixels. One row of pixels for each nozzle. Beyond this, designs are entirely customizable and repeatable.
The painting process begins with a concoction of acrylic paint and mineral spirits, the classic petroleum-derived clear solvent. Wang funnels the mixture into bags that connect to the Dot Blaster 8000 device. Between colors, Wang must empty the gun completely of the previous color in order to ensure that a pure pigment would be delivered.
'Taktaktaktaktak!' Wang’s Dot Blaster 8000 releases a light rotary sound like the world’s gentlest automatic paintball gun. The sleek, translucent rectangular body holds a straight line of eight small nozzles, hence the “8000” in the name (according to Wang, a Dot Blaster 16,000 is in the works). Each nozzle is wired to a small, built-in computer that pushes the small blasts of paint out in specific sequences. For painting Special Special’s gate, the gallery collaborated with Wang to test new designs, including the Special Special logo, trademark name, some waves, and little figures. Over the course of an hour, Wang dribbled bands of patterns in green, blue, white, and yellow on the silver gate.
Along with Wang’s partner, Taylor Levy, their two charming sons watched from the sidelines, asking many necessary questions such as, “What’s the box for?” Upon switching the gun’s settings to scrawl “Special Special,” one child exclaimed, “A second Special?” After the gate was complete and with enthusiastic encouragement from the audience, Wang progressed onto the sidewalk, discovering that flat horizontal surfaces rendered a more legible pattern. Part performance piece, part action painting, Wang’s demonstration of the Dot Blaster 8000 left a lasting mark on Special Special and our imaginations, as we know this will only be the beginning of Dot Blaster!
Check out our interview with Che-Wei Wang.