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Cy Kuckenbaker Creates The Ultimate Traffic Patterns

From his home in San Diego the artist documents the subtle rhythms behind planes and automobiles.
December 16, 2013, 9:53pm

Filmmaker Cy Kuckenbaker attracted the internet's attention in 2012 when he created the ultimate air show--condensing four hours of San Diego plane traffic into a now-viral 30 second clip. In the latest installment of his San Diego Studies, seen in our making of documentary above, Kuckenbaker turns his attention to car travel, transforming four minutes of traffic footage into neat, unicolor lines, creating a documentary infographic that highlights color patterns and preferences that would normally go unseen.

Midday Traffic Time Collapsed and Reorganized by Color: San Diego Study #3 from Cy Kuckenbaker.

Cuckenbaker--a documentary filmmaker, Fulbright winner, and MoPA Fellow--was initially inspired to create his first short after a move that brought him closer to the San Diego International Airport. It was there that the artist became fascinated by the rhythms and patterns of the flights. After coming across an image online of every airplane that took off in a single day from a German airport (Flughaven by Ho-yeol Ryu, seen below) Kuckenbaker was spurred to try the same technique--only this time with film.

Flughaven by Ho-yeol Ryu.

Using a system called chroma key (that acts in several ways like a green screen) Kuckenbaker was able to remove, re-insert, and layer both backgrounds and objects--giving the appearance of remarkable mass action happening in a short time frame. Through this method, he was able to isolate car patterns and condense their cycles--turning what would otherwise be dry transportation data into a moving, visual representation of life in San Diego. "My aim is to reveal the color palette and color preferences of contemporary San Diego drivers in addition to traffic patterns and volumes," Kuckenbaker told us. "I'm interested in tweaking things, and playing with things, and trying to reveal possibilities for myself."

Landings at San Diego Int Airport Nov 23, 2012 from Cy Kuckenbaker.

Departures from San Diego Int Airport Dec 27, 2012 from Cy Kuckenbaker.