Lindsay's Satellite Map Mural

11 August, 2005

One of my closest college friends Lindsay is moving away to go to a pre-med program in DC at the end of the month. Lindsay lives with Amy and Chris and so, as a kind of reverse going away present, she decided to paint them a mural.

Since Amy'd just bought their house, Lindsay came up with this great idea for a mural. First, she downloaded an aerial picture of the area from TerraServer (almost everyone I've seen talk to her about it has given her a hard time for not using Google Maps, but she says TerraServer's picture was better).

Then she spent a week hand tracing the picture with simple geometric shapes in Photoshop: rectilear forms for the buildings, circles for the trees, etc. Next, she got slides made from her Photoshop files, borrowed my slide projector, and projected the image onto the wall so we could trace it. I helped her trace the whole thing in pencil. It took four slides to cover the whole wall and getting them line up was a challenge, as was keeping the projector parallel to the ground and still on the rickety ladder we had setup. Once the map was traced onto the wall, Lindsay taped off the streets and we started painting. When I last saw it (Cary and I helped paint some trees night before last), it was nearing completion. All that she had left was to hand erase all the pencil lines and paint in the house itself. She's going to use a nice contrasting orange for that

One of the interesting decisions Lindsay made was how to orient the map on the wall. Instead of doing it with North facing up, she up South at the top. At first this is highly disorienting because of how accustomed we are to looking at maps North-up. But then, once you realize that up on the map is the direction you're facing, everything seems to fall into place.

I'll try and get a picture of the whole thing in a finished state next time I'm over there so I can put it on my Flickr account for all to see. This is such a great project. Lindsay has definitely left her mark on that house in a lasting way.

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