Seth Abramson fills his days with graphics and video creation, but nighttime is when his expertise shines. As the artist behind vibrant light, laser and projection designs, Abramson has regular gigs at downtown clubs and on the road with local bands.
“It’s my 8 [p.m.] to 2 a.m. job,” he told the City Paper this week. His residency as Lazer Catcher at the Trio dance club on Calhoun Street has him running the visuals inside what he calls one of the nation’s top venues of its size.
But even when he’s not on the clock, Abramson’s creative impulses kick in. Like the night of March 8 when he set up a projector in the back of his truck outside the Charleston Tech Center parking deck just off Romney Street. The garage’s 95-foot-tall bare cement wall that takes up a whole city block has drawn plenty of doubletakes at the very least — an unmissable rough edge in a city of postcard vistas. The only mark on the sheer gray face is “Charleston Tech Center,” painted high in one corner.
Well, Abramson had a subtle embellishment to add. After about five minutes of fiddling on his computer, the sign read, “Charleston Tech Center is ugly as f*ck.”
The photo resurfaced this week when Abramson shared it to a Facebook group and it found its way back to the Wagener Terrace neighborhood Facebook page.
He’s not peeved about the whole Tech Center, which houses local tech startups in a high-rise off Morrison Drive, just the multi-story cement wall.
“The rest of the building looks pretty fine. And then the one side that faces the highway is terrible,” he said.
“I’m not one of these people who hates the growth in Charleston — it’s really helped me make a career,” he said, but noticed the new building one day when he was at Revelry Brewing’s rooftop bar across the street. “I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘Is it done?'”
To be fair, the prank was set up for him perfectly.
“I can’t believe they put their name on it,” he said.
Charleston Digital Corridor director Ernest Andrade took the ribbing in stride: “Everyone has their opinion. Or should I say, is entitled to one!”
“The garage supports a building of 40 tech companies and that is what matters,” he said.
A Charleston city spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
The Tech Center gag is low-hanging fruit for Abramson, who usually uses his projectors — which he compares to “the size of a leatherback turtle … they’re huge” — to map intricate light displays onto building facades. Aside from the other work at local venues like Pour House and on the road with bands like Doom Flamingo and Stop Light Observations, Abramson has done projections onto historic buildings downtown.
One project at the U.S. Custom House was in support of a bill before Congress to provide aid money for people like him in the events industry affected by COVID-19. Another, last summer, was at the Old Exchange Building in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
The larger jobs, like the Custom House, can require him to sit outside the building with his projector and software, mapping out the edges of the buildings for hours. But he said he hasn’t run into any trouble with police for projecting onto public buildings after hours, when people aren’t inside.