Sunday, April 29, 2012

Big Wall II, 'Bichinhos'

For a while now I've been working on a second large solo graffiti project. Like the first, I am taking advantage of the vertical dimension in order to have an impressive amount of square footage unclaimed by other street artists.  Unfortunately, this means I'm doing the whole thing by ladder, which makes everything go much slower, but in addition to having a big blank wall I also hope to avoid having anyone paint over my work.  Also like the first one, it is in a very public and well-traveled spot here in the center of the city, in this case right next to the Dique do TororĂ³, a large artificial lake I've written about before on this blog.

I'm doing a couple things differently this time: first of all, I've decided to only paint critters, or bichos as they would be called in Portuguese.  Originally it was going to be another visual free-for-all but I decided to limit it this time.  The other big change I decided on relates to time.  I knew this project would take me several months, as I will only be able to go out maybe once a week to work on it.  I realized that with my last wall, people were viewing it over time - if they passed by it, they would look for changes and new elements.  Problem was, with the last one, I left a lot of things half-finished and they stayed that way sometimes for a month or more.  This time, I'm painting discrete elements, critters as it were, and finishing them off each session so nothing will appear unfinished, and over time the painting evolves as new elements are introduced and interact with the existing ones.  Hopefully this will make the wall more interesting for anyone who is actually paying attention to what I'm doing.

I've been chronicling my progress on Flickr, here's an overview of what I've done so far.

Prequel - I took this photo just before I started what I consider to be 'Phase I.'  My original intervention was the three red monsters that I've been painting with some frequency, and the letters KUZA.  I hadn't committed myself to painting the whole dern thing (it's about 70 yards long) when I painted them.



Phase I - big centipedes and blue dinosaurs.  Don't tell the dudes who painted at ground level, but I sure wish it looked a bit nicer than it does.


Phase II - whale/amoeba thingies.  There are a lot of underwater beasties in here, but not all of them are.  These mostly travel in pods.


I also painted some terrestrial grazer-type things, which are beginning to show the overlapping effect I am ultimately after in the mural


Phase III - the first of what will hopefully be several worm/snake type things, painted on the left end of the wall. Traffic here (I was standing on the other side of the road as I took this) all goes right to left, so most of the movement in the painting will do so as well.  This was going to be much more plain, but it looked too boring so I embellished it.  In the middle is also a blue kamr famr, a creature I created back when I was younger than Lucas.


I plan to add several tributes into the work, here is the first: Totoro, by Hiyao Miyazaki, from one of my favorite films.  Also a school of underbite fish.


Phase IV - this week I only painted in this section, trying to build up to optimum density, still needs more overlapping.


Phase V - today.  This week Lucas did a little sketch and asked me if I'd add it to my mural.  I said sure - I'd actually been wanting to paint something of his for some time now.  Here it is in all its toothy glory.

These vines grow very quickly, and I have been ripping some of them down.  I decided not to fight them in this case, and instead painted in some camouflaged lizard creatures underneath them.


And some more underbite fish, and another of these worm/balloon whatever-it-is thingies...  this area is very close to having enough critters.  There are still big sections with nothing on them.


That's it for now!  Hope you enjoyed it.  I'll post an update when I'm done.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Doing My Bit for Digital Hegemony

Recently I was mucking around with Google Maps, which is something I do from time to time, and lamenting the fact that we don't have Street View here in Salvador (yet). Then I discovered something that you, dear reader, may have known about for years.

If you drag the little yellow guy from the distance slider in Google Maps, you can kick down into Street View, this I knew. The other thing, that I was vaguely aware of, is that you can place him on geomapped photos to see what things look like from where the picture was taken. What I didn't know is that, given enough images, you can click your way around a virtual space, shifting from one photo to another, taken by different users, and get a pretty interesting idea of what a place looks like. The best example I've found to date is in the Largo do Pelourinho, one of the most photogenic spots in the city.

After I got all excited about that, I decided to try to put some of my own images into the great virtual construct that is being created of our planet via Google and some other miscellaneous players. One of these players is Panoramio, which provides the images used by Google Maps and Google Earth. Looking suspiciously similar to Flickr, which has its own geomapping service (sadly not linked to The Google), you submit your photos for review and, if they get approved, they get plunked into Google Earth, later making their way into Google Maps.

At least, that's the theory. I had the brilliant realization that since you can click around and flow from one image to another (and since the site is called 'Panoramio' fercryinoutloud), that it would be really cool to submit 360 degree shots from around the largo and eventually to other places that I venture out to from time to time. I haven't actually found a spot where this has been implemented - where someone else has done the same, successfully - if you know of one please let me know.

I went out and did about a dozen super-slow pirouettes with my camera, then dutifully submitted them and mapped them. To my surprise, most of them were reviewed and accepted within 24 hours. Unfortunately, however, I did not see my images on the maps either in Google or in Panoramico itself. That is, until today.

Okay, I'll admit it - I've been checking every day to see if any of the images got added to the maps. I did manage to put the brakes on the picture taking and mapping - I wanted to see some results before I invested any more time and energy. Now there are pictures of mine in Largo 2 de Julho although the selection seems to have been entirely random, and not nearly complete. If each of my pirouettes required about nine photos, they appear to have dropped in only one of each. Needless to say, I can't see if my 360 degree panoramic theory will work. Hopefully more images will be added in time.

In case you're curious, I do have ulterior motives: I got into the whole thing in the first place because I wanted my customers to have some help finding my hidden shop, and then I realized I could map in all my graffiti!

Maybe I'll post a progress report if a) there is progress and b) I can maintain my interest.

Oh Glazed Reader, I do have other news, my son turned seven and I've taken on another big graffiti project, requiring ladders, on about 70 yards of retaining wall. I am also nearing the 10 mile landmark for my runs, which will be exciting. I may write about these things, and others, at another time.

Then again, maybe I won't.