The City Panorama Project: ‘Half the Bike, Twice the Rider’

Early on in the brainstorming process for the City Panorama Project, I found myself doodling on a piece of paper, trying to fit something — anything — into a 4×1 frame. The inspiration for “Half the Bike, Twice the Rider” (view it larger here) ended up being the first thing I scribbled down, a series of overlapping circles with a dot on the edge, “rotating” along a path that would perfectly fit the panoramic format. But how would I do it? After several weeks of experimenting and prototyping, I came up with a tentative solution, and I put a post on Craigslist looking for a unicyclist!

Luckily for me, a friend of Rachel Randall sent her the link. She is a dancer and an instructor in the fine art of unicycling at SANCA Seattle. We met at a Seattle park and I explained my concept to her. I tried to ignore the bemused look upon her face.

While we also shot Rachel in motion from a variety of angles, in the end what I used ended up being less about actual unicycling and more about the illusion of unicycling. It worked best to have her pose her wheel and pedals at specifically marked locations along a bike path, so I could later composite each shot into my final image. Below you can see one of the raw images, and then a portion of my first composited image, comprised of 15 separate photos.

After lining all my image components up correctly in Photoshop, it took me a while to get exactly the post-processed look I would ultimately submit to King County Metro. The first version was very hard to look at. With all the overlapping and translucency, so much detail was lost, and the vividness of the colors was a bit painful to look at. It helped somewhat to use selective masking to highlight the path of the feet on the pedals, but the color was still not right. I tried several iterations of tinting the shoes in an attempt to draw them out and force the viewer to focus on them, but nothing I did could win me unanimous approval in critiques from my classmates or instructors.

Finally, my deadline was imminent, and I made one last decision and submitted it without a final review. Except for the shoes and the yellow line on the bike path, I dropped all the color and let the extraneous elements go dark. What resulted turned into (I think) a rather striking image, one that pulls the viewer in and really lets them ponder the repetition of the unicycle wheel as well as the arc of the feet.

I’ll be very curious to see how this turns out when printed on the plywood lumber. Will the grain of the wood be a distraction? Will the color (or lack thereof) hold up? I’ll give you my assessment as soon as I see it in person!

Original concept

UPDATE: It’s been installed in downtown Seattle!

Map to ‘Half the Bike, Twice the Rider’

Find it in downtown Seattle!

Posted in Announcements and Creative Work and Street / Seattle.