Bike + GPS = Digital Doodling Over the Streets of Baltimore

A Baltimore schoolteacher uses his phone and his bicycle to construct whimsical sketches on digital maps of the city, Nate Berg reports.
May 9, 2012, 2pm PDT | Ryan Lue
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In what is half eccentric hobby, half conceptual art project, Michael Wallace has been riding his bicycle in elaborately planned, zig-zagging, wayward loops through the streets of Baltimore, using a GPS tracking feature on his phone to record his path. These routes, when displayed on a map, form doodles of animals, constellations, scenes from history, and even video game screenshots.

An eighth-grade science teacher, Wallace uses his breaks to sketch out new routes on printed maps of his neighborhood.

"To make these drawings, Wallace brings a detailed map of the city, with arrows and paths marked to keep him on track," Berg writes. "It's not always perfect, and one missed turn can ruin what can sometimes be hours worth of work. A one-block misstep had a huge impact on an early drawing of a giant rat."

"My rat ended up looking sort of like an armadillo," Wallace says.

Numbering over 200, Wallace's pieces have appeared in local art galleries, and are becoming more refined and complex. This summer, he has plans for at least 50 more drawings, including depictions of tectonic plate boundaries, Steve Irwin, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Published on Monday, May 7, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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