Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Mission Street Scroll completed.

It's finally done.  The Mission Street Scroll turned out to be a slightly wacky - but generally accurate - 38-foot long panoramic print of Mission Street in our little town of South Pasadena, California. I created this print for the city's 125th anniversary celebration, and it will soon be deposited into the Preservation Foundation's time capsule, to be opened in 2088. You can see the final, signed print online at a website created just for the picture:
The Mission Street Scroll in studio

The Mission Street Scroll west end
Our studio, shown on the west end of the street (above). 
The complete panorama shows 1.1 miles of Mission.

After completing the print, I presented it to the local community with the opportunity for individuals to sign it and write small "remembrances" onto it. There were two signing events. The first signing took place on June 23 at the South Preservation Foundation annual meeting. The second one took place last Saturday, July 13 in the courtyard of city hall.
The Mission Street Scroll signing

It's my hope that The Scroll and its written notes will present a moment in time for viewers in the future. When the time capsule is opened in 75 years the residents of South Pasadena will be able to compare the street and its landmarks, then and now. And because a city is more than just its buildings, the voices of the people who lived and worked here will add a richer personal understanding of life in South Pas as it was in 2013.

About the Scroll

The panorama is not particularly accurate; the truncated autos, impossible building perspectives, miss­ing trees and misshapen sidewalks are all testament to the limitations of the medium and the limits of my efforts. The skies are enhanced and the roadways are remanufactured. Anomalies abound. But for all its inaccuracies and visual trickery, this image conjures a familiar vision of home for all of us who live and work here.

There is no automated "stitching" software for this kind of panorama, so the images were cobbled together like a free-form mosaic. I worked to keep the building fronts as accurate as possible, but the laws of physics insist that foregrounds (cars and sidewalks) are truncated and backgrounds (trees, buildings, etc) repeat. 
I created this panorama between March and June of this year. I walked Mission Street back and forth with my camera and snapped a picture about every 20 feet, nearly 2400 images in all. I captured the north side of the street on March 14, the south side on May 11. Back in my studio, I assembled the street at my computer, one block at a time, with each block taking 2-3 hours to assemble. When all the blocks were completed I assembled them together to create the entire street.

For what it's worth, I also photographed Fair Oaks Avenue from the Rialto Theatre to the War memorial building. The individual blocks were composited together, but that project is left unfinished, perhaps to be completed someday in the future.