Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blue Roof Theory

This may seem to have nothing to do with art, but it does. I have been working on a couple of paintings based on 19th century maps. And I have been collecting images from Google Earth for ages because I am just so intrigued by the patterns that emerge from aerial views of the world. And in some cases the colors are also very rich and fascinating. I was thinking about aerial views of urban areas that sort of mimic maps, so I popped into Google Earth again today.
I have -- like so many other people -- been both appalled and fascinated by the change in the landscape that the hurricanes of 2005 wrought on the Gulf Coast. So the first place I went to was New Orleans. I don't know when these images were taken (I'll try to figure it out) but a very odd thing struck me as I flew around over the city (by the way, I LOVE google earth) -- you can look down at the city from a fairly high height and get an immediate impression of both the impact of Katrina and the socioeconomic status of a neighborhood or area by color flecks that predominate. Lots of blue flecks means lots of damage. If it is mostly blue and no white then these are areas where people are not having to live in place despite the damage, or else were able to fix a certain amount quickly. Zoom in close, and while some white bits are tarps, they are motsly FEMA trailers. Mostly white flecks means lots of damage and no money or little hope for repair. No white or blue, just dark shapes not aligned with streets mean the area is just gone with little chance of recovery.

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