The Unappreciated Stepchild of Coffee with Jesus
The disgruntled creator of "Saturated Street Scenes" is jealous of the success of "Coffee with Jesus."
It's not laugh out loud funny, but I'm sure it's actually much harder to create the Saturated Street Scenes
that are featured at Radio Free Babylon than it is to make Carl, Lisa, Ann and Kevin have a four-panel discussion with Jesus.
That stuff is child's play. I'm making art. I travel the world for the perfect image while the jokesters sit in their studio and get all the glory. I will take you through the grueling process.
Sometimes I start by simply dropping that little, yellow Google maps man onto a roadside and seeing if there's anything interesting to look at. It never happens on the first drop. If I find that I've landed in an area that was photographed in the early days of Google Street Views, back when the cameras were crappy and every part of the world looks like a grainy, hazy horrible day, then I back out and find someplace new, someplace where the Google Car was fitted with that nice high-def camera that makes you feel like you're there. Still, I end up dragging that man up and down the streets, turning and looking, hoping to see something interesting. Sometimes the name of a place will grab me and I say, "I wonder what's there." I was looking for a Vermont scene one Sunday when I saw a place in Quebec called "Magog." Up and down the streets of Magog I traveled on what appeared to be a beautiful weekend where flower baskets hung from the lampposts and window shoppers walked the sidewalks, beer gardens were filled with happy patrons and all the world was a sunny day. Nothing stood out, so I took a side street and found the part of town that didn't cater to tourists. Sitting on the steps of a beat down old corner store were two girls and what appeared to be their father and perhaps a grandmother. They stared at the Google Car in the late afternoon of summer, frozen in time.
What I'm looking for is human interest, usually, slice of life with a twist, maybe the unexpected or simply the pastoral. Sometimes it's accidentally perfect, such as the shot I found in Queenstown, South Africa, where a uniformed school girl walks down a dirt road past decrepit houses on a sunny day, her head shielded from the glare by a colorful umbrella.
Framing the shot is always a challenge as the Google Street Cam usually has fuzzy areas that are way out of focus, or telephone lines mar the perfect scene. I abandoned a beautiful scene in the deep interior of Mexico that I labored over for an hour at least. It featured a bricklayer working on a building as two boys ducked into a neighboring tortilleria, but the distracting crisscrossing telephone lines were unable to be Photoshopped out or cropped away. In the Queenstown shot, the telephone lines work well to frame the scene, but "Tortilleria" had to be scrapped.
Once it's framed, cropped and properly saturated - I want surreal and dreamlike - then it's time to decide if it needs an added feature. Sometimes it's perfect, as in "Schoolgirl," other times the addition of Major Mike Adams
is in order, perhaps an entirely different sky, or the stealth bomber in this latest shot from Dublin, Ireland at a place called Glasnevin Cemetery. In this instance, I had a title in mind before ever finding the shot, and I scoured London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and other cities looking for an old cemetery with people in it in order to create an image called "The Living and The Dead." (Click it for the large)
These aren't mildly funny, base, crude or sarcastic. It's funny how these scenes are bypassed on our Facebook page
as people flock to the silly clip art comics, giving them the coveted thumbs-up "Like" that passes for praise these days. "Saturated Street Scenes" are intended as art, to be studied, inspected and eventually shown in a Manhattan gallery, the opening of which I will attend, wearing a scarf and a loosely fitting but still devilishly stylish black suit, sipping a mineral water with lime. The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Art World will talk to me in those Manhattan accents and they will ask me questions and we will talk about inspiration and motivation, meaning and philosophy and what can we do to help the Third World from here in Manhattan. Then they will purchase one of the prints, or buy the expensive coffee table book bound in leather and trimmed in gold. We will laugh at the silly "Coffee with Jesus" comics, of course, and admit that "they have their place," but we will know where the real art is. Those comics, we will agree, were a passing fad, while I - they will tell me - I have created lasting beauty. Then my agent will whisper to me, "Your dinner guests are waiting in the private dining room at The St. Regis."
At dinner, I hope to meet a very powerful attorney who will offer to represent me against the giant and evil Google, the faceless beast that let me have these images for free now trying to sue me for using its copyrighted imagery to make personal profit.
Labels: coffee with jesus, Google maps, Google street views, saturated street scenes