ALYS BEACH DIGITAL GRAFFITI FESTIVAL
It started as a way to bring attention to the area and 12 years later has become a leading international art experience: the Alys Beach Digital Graffiti Festival. It’s where projection art meets architecture. With its stark white buildings acting as a canvas, the entire town lights up in a kaleidoscope of projection art for one weekend every May.
The first festival was August 2008, the same weekend Hurricane Gustav blew through, knocking out two-thirds of the projectors.
Lucia Fishburne, a former Sanibel resident and former Florida Film Commissioner, has been a festival judge since the beginning. “It was a novelty at first— not everyone was educated on digital art—but it’s very different now, and the entries have become very competitive. There’s nothing like this,” she says.
Since those early days, more construction means less wide-open space. “Now the projections run on doors, windows and trees,” says festival curator Brett Phares. “Some art really responds to it. It fools your eyes.”
Those who attend the three-day sold-out event meander the streets of Alys, moved and mesmerized by the urban projections, some of which are interactive. Gourmet food, wine and spirits are also found along the route that ends in a rousing party at Caliza. In Fishburne’s words, it’s an event with “a magical quality.” The 2020 Digital Graffiti Festival is scheduled for May 15-16.
Homes become the canvas for projection art, also known as Photon Bombing or Urban Projection.