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Arts & Culture

San Diego Artist Turns Rush Hour Into A Rainbow

San Diego Artist Turns Rush Hour Into A Rainbow

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.