GPS, creativity and space: a recipe for a meaningful masterpiece
Wherever you are in Barcelona there’s something exciting to look at. From impressive architecture to spirited squares and bustling streets – it really is an inspiring city for tourists and residents alike. For art lovers, part of the city’s charm is the vast array of museums and street art that appear on almost every corner. While many of the large-scale projects remain uncompleted, creatives all over the city are undertaking brief, meaningful initiatives. One artist in particular is blurring the lines between technology and creativity by using Topcon’s geospatial equipment to help bring his masterpiece to life.
Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada is a world-renowned Cuban-American Contemporary Artist who is most recognised for his terrestrial artwork series that can be seen from space. His art tackles wide-known social questions and concerns such as human rights and climate change – with the immense scale symbolising the impact of the issues.
For the setting of his instalment in Barcelona, he chose the Plaça Comercial, an emblematic square in the El Born District. The piece set out to raise awareness of Spanish Civil War refugees, demonstrated through the gaze of an anonymous woman’s eyes that figuratively appear to look into the future but also reveal a reflection of the past.
In order to stimulate maximum impact and understanding of his work, each installation needs to be carried out with utmost precision. Rodriguez-Gerada, therefore, used Topcon’s GPS technology to plot out exactly where the design needed to be on the ground. The Topcon team were initially concerned that the surrounding buildings could obstruct the satellite signals which had the potential to produce 'multipaths' which would reflect the signals. But, the technology prevailed and the data was successfully gathered.
Following the data capture, the design was georeferenced in Autocad and uploaded to the GPS software with MAGNET Field. The team benefited from RTK corrections for extra accuracy, in order to ensure that the design would be inputted on the square without any errors.
It was then all systems go for Rodriguez-Gerada’s and filling in the mapped-out design with colour. When it came to recruiting volunteers, there were plenty of local people on hand to help. They completed it in chalk, which was chosen due to it being an ephemeral material so avoided any damage to the environment.
Despite this piece not being a permanent fixture to Barcelona’s art scene, the impact and conversations around the common issue remain. By bringing together technology, creativity and the wider community, Rodriguez-Gerada successfully orchestrated an important piece of work with far-reaching results.