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mapping the colors around us

November 4, 2009

My friend Kelly sent me a link to the Cartogrammar blog post, “Flickr as Paintbrush“, where the author, Andy Woodruff, found a way to display the colors of the viewscape around Harvard Square, based on geotagged photos uploaded to Flickr. The results look like blobby stained glass windows. Pretty cool!

When I first clicked on the link, though, I imagined something rather different – I was expecting to see something based on the photos uploaded to Flickr of people who live in Harvard Square. So, not their surrounding physical environment, but what photos they surround themselves with, in a sense. Kind of a meta-level environment, not physical, iow. (So perhaps impossible to map, except maybe as a mind-map of some kind?)

If I was going to map my own photographs that I would like to be surrounded by, there’d be my New Zealand set, and my art works in various media, and probably lots of pictures of the local meadow where I spend a lot of time. Recent photos would include a lot of colorful foliage because it’s that time of year.

If I were to be a bit more literal about “the colors around us”, I might display the colors seen in my studio, which is where my computer is, and where I write (and read) most blog posts, and think about art projects. Or read books. Looking around it now, I’m not sure what the main color(s) are; it’s such a jumble of many different hues and shades.  When we moved here, I left behind two full-size bookcases – but I still have most of the books, so they are stacked in piles on the floor. My clothes closet is much smaller than the one in Indiana, so I have stacks of clothes all over as well. And art supplies and works of art scattered throughout. At least the greenery of my houseplants echoes green leaves on the trees outside my windows. Beyond that, and white walls, I’m not sure what colors, if any, are predominant.

I did realize some time ago that I will never be a person represented by just one main color or even two colors. I’m neither unitary nor binary about anything.  Trinary is the smallest I’ll go, but I’m often drawn to even more parts. I’ve never had just one favorite color; I’ve always had at least a handful. I don’t respond well to Manichean/polarized arguments and examples – I tend to suggest a third and/or fourth option, or a continuum of possible values.

So the colors I’m surrounded by today are green, white, brown, orange, purple, red, teal, periwinkle, coral … a veritable rainbow, and that’s just how I like it.

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