Brakeman Raga

This is a good time to take a break from the photo-anagram series. I say this having completed a month of photos, an currently having some difficulty finding interesting bits of roadside rubbish to photograph and give suitable shapenames, then linking them via anagrams to particular websites.

For example, the Ornaments Parvenu Squash post associates a photo of a squashed orange peel* on Oxford Road with A love that dare not speak its gnome, a newspaper story about garden ornaments. The chain of words that accomplish this are that I decided the orange looks a bit like a supernova, and a crab, so I made a variety of anagrams using those and related words, then searched on those words for interesting pages.

It so happens that the Crab Nebula is described as a remnant supernova, and one anagram of that phrase is Ornaments Parvenu. A Google search for pages with both words turns up the Independent article. The third title word – squash – also occurs in the news story. I added it to make the association even stronger. This produces something that’s nearly a Googlewhack (a single page result for two search terms).

There’s an interesting possible extension to this, which is to develop a visual googlewhack so that a particular image comes up as a result of the search words. Given that I’ve named the post Ornaments Parvenu Squash instead of Remnant Supernova Squash, I’d expect my image to show up in a search using the first phrase rather than the second. At present it doesn’t show up near the top of either one.

This photo-anagrammatics is an interesting project, combining photography with wordplay and search ranking. I’ve started to develop a skill at going out with the camera, keeping an eye on the pavement, assessing every little bit of rubbish, developing a sense of just how much rubbish there is, of what sort, and whether it provides an opportunity to think about unusual shapes. Searching for patterns, as ever.

I diversified a bit to cracked pavements, and wasn’t able to think of shapenames for every one. Those few without shapes are also without anagrams. The cracked pavement idea is one I want to continue, partly because I’d like to treat the cracks in a variety of ways. The first idea is to pour coloured chalks into the cracks, giving some colour to the experience of passers-by, but also to evoke shapes and contrasts more clearly. I’d also like to treat some cracked blocks in other ways, perhaps more subtly, by laying patterned stencils against them and cleaning away a layer of discolouration. Perhaps some sort of touring trail is in order. Perhaps I can guide people to a series of points, maybe even scrubbing bits of text into the pavements.

* I keep finding bits of orange peel on pavements near schools. Poplar Road, Oxford Road, and Forest Road routinely provide samples. For the ethnographer of the street, this counts as something.