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San Diego Artist Turns Rush Hour Into A Rainbow


San Diego Artist Turns Rush Hour Into A Rainbow

Cy Kuckenbaker's San Diego Study #3

Look down over the Cabrillo Freeway from the Washington Street bridge and you'll see chaos. The entire automobile spectrum whizzes by without any real pattern or artistic intent.

But with some clever video editing, traffic becomes a soothing parade of matching paint jobs in Cy Kuckenbaker's "San Diego Study #3." The footage is distilled from a four-minute continuous shot taken on an October afternoon. Describing the labor-intensive cutting and pasting behind his finished product, Kuckenbaker writes:

I cut out each car frame by frame and saved it as its own new video. Then I grabbed a still shot of each lane when it was empty, laid those over the source video, which produces an empty freeway and then put all the cars back in on top of that. Each car took an average of fifteen minutes to cut out and save x 492 cars, which is around 120 hours.

In just two days, the video has already been viewed more than half a million times. Vimeo selected it as a staff pick, and it's been written up by all the hip design blogs. One outlet even created a mini-documentary on Kuckenbaker's work.

Kuckenbaker's first two San Diego studies took a similar look at take-offs and landings at San Diego International Airport. He says this latest entry was born out of an interest in San Diego's car culture:

I was surprised that the vast majority of cars are colorless: white, gray and black. The bigger surprise though was just how many cars passed in four minutes of what looked like light traffic: 462 cars. I invite my fellow arm chair anthropologist to parse out what those car colors say about us.

Kuckenbaker receives support for his work from MOPA San Diego and the San Diego Foundation.

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | December 18, 2013 at 3:39 p.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

This is actually really cool after reading how the artist did it. I was hoping I would see my scooter go by, but no luck. It reminds me of a doctoral thesis presentation I attended years ago at Scripps Institution of Oceanography where the researcher set up a camera pointing down at the turbulent surf zone and took photos at regular time intervals for several days. Then, he was able to remove the white pixels and overlap the photos so that it looked like there were no waves in the ocean. Then, putting together a series of these clear ocean photos into a video, he could watch the movement of the sand in the surf zone as it rippled and moved with the waves and currents. Well done Kuckenbaker, you're an artist thinking like a scientist!

"I invite my fellow arm chair anthropologist to parse out what those car colors say about us."
Let me take a whack at this - sports cars and brightly colored cars are phallic, whether the driver is male or female. Humble cars and muted colored cars are also phallic, but in the opposite way since the driver is saying, "I don't need a fancy or noticeable car to prove what I've got", but if everyone knows they are making that statement, and they know everyone knows, then they are doing the exact same thing as the drivers of the sports cars and brightly colored cars. Motorcycles, regardless of color, are phallic since the driver is saying, "look how wild and adventurous I am, I don't care about danger, please be attracted to me". So I guess what I'm saying is, all cars and motorcycles are phallic, but scooters are not since they are more dangerous than motorcycles, but less cool, and less expensive than cars or motorcycles, and less versatile or practical for longer distance travel. They do however, have a nice, small carbon footprint, but there is nothing phallic about being green.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 18, 2013 at 3:44 p.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

I think I need to start riding a scooter instead of a phallus.

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