Archive for the '“The Process is the Product”' Category

New course proposal for “Street Art Graphics” digital archive project

The pegatinas writing assignment with Marina Llorente and the Weaving the Streets & People’s Archive project with John Collins have both gone so well that I’ve decided to develop a new course proposal that would offer students the opportunity to conduct research and write about street art stickers and ephemera related to street culture for the Street Art Graphics digital archive. One of the biggest game changers for the archive is that I’m trying to convince SLU to convert from ContentDM to Artstor Shared Shelf, a Web-based cataloguing and image management software system that would provide several improvements. In addition to higher quality image presentation, the Artstor cataloguing tool includes a vocabulary warehouse so that artists’ names, geographic locations, and subject headings are automatically linked to authority records from the Library of Congress and the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, among others. Metadata schemas are highly customizable, as are different user roles for collaborative cataloguing. Artstor will also store and back up all of our source images for long-term, off-site preservation. Most important, however, is the fact that Shared Shelf allows users to publish content directly to the Web through Shared Shelf Commons, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Omeka, Google, and other outlets. This last feature is what is most exciting. Despite how well Artstor presents images, I have avoided using it up until now because content is available only to paid subscribers (not very democratic of them, is it?). With Shared Shelf Commons, however, we could share our digital content freely with everyone in keeping with St. Lawrence University’s open access policies.

Here is what I have so far for the course overview and the initial list of required readings. Now I have to put together the assignments and the weekly schedule and submit this puppy to the art & art history department for their approval. Fingers crossed in advanced!

Street Art Graphics & People’s Archive Course Overview

This course offers students the opportunity to conduct research and write about street art graphics for an online digital archive available on St. Lawrence University’s Richard F. Brush Art Gallery Web site (http://www.stlawu.edu/gallery/digitalcollections/streetartgraphics.php) and on Artstor Shared Shelf Commons, a free, open access international digital image library of arts and sciences (http://www.sscommons.org/openlibrary/welcome.html#1). The Street Art Graphics & People’s Archive is based primarily on contemporary street art stickers and ephemera related to street culture from countries around the world, including Canada, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Indonesia, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States. Topics addressed include animal rights, consumer capitalism, environment, football, gender and sexuality, labor, police brutality, political protests, racism, social justice, and surveillance, among others. The course enables students to use real world examples of street art culture to understand current global issues and to be part of writing history through citizen journalism. Incorporating critical thinking and visual/media literacies, students will learn how to annotate images, hone their writing skills, and contribute their work to a vibrant and unique digital image archive. A digital geo-mapping project at the end of the semester will further contextualize items in the archive.

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Selected Readings

Burkeman, DB, and Monica LoCascio. Stickers: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art. New York: Rizzoli, 2010. Print.

Chaffee, Lyman G., Political Protest and Street Art: Popular Tools for Democratization in Hispanic Countries. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993. Print. Chapter 1: pages 3-22; Chapter 3: pages 37-52.

Clough, Alice. Combating Urban Disengagement? Stickers as a Form of Street Art. London: University College London Department of Anthropology Working Paper 09/2011. Print.

Ferrante, Julia. ‘Street art’ provides context for understanding cities. 20 July 2011. Web.

Gregory, Lua, and Shana Higgins, eds. Information Literacy and Social Justice: Radical Professional Praxis. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press, 2013. Print.

Irvine, Martin. “The Work on the Street: Street Art and Visual Culture” in The Handbook of Visual Culture. London/New York: Berg. 2012. Print.

Leckie, Gloria J, Lisa M. Given, and John E. Buschman, eds. Critical Theory for Library and Information Science. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. 2010. Print. (Chapters include “Transformative Library Pedagogy and Community-Based Libraries: A Freiran Perspective” by Martina Riedler and Mustafas Yunus Eryaman and “The Public Library as a Space for Democratic Empowerment: Henry Giroux, Radical Democracy, and Border Pedagogy” by Mustafas Yunus Eryaman.)

Morrone, Melissa, ed. Informed Agitation: Library and Information Skills in Social Justice Movements and Beyond. Sacramento: Library Juice Press, 2014. Print. (Chapters include “Whatcha Doin’ After the Demo? The Importance of Archiving Political Posters” by Vince Teetart; “To Spread the Revolution: Anarchist Archives and Libraries” by Jessica Moran; “Building an Archive from Below: Reflections from Interference Archive” by Molly Fair; “Librarian Is My Occupation: A History of the People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street” by Jaime Taylor and Zachary Loeb; and “Why Archive? and Other Important Questions Asked by Occupy Wall Street” by Sian Evans, Anna Perricci, and Amy Roberts.)

Pollock, Caitlin M. J., and Andrea Battleground. A Gallery for the Outlaw: Archiving the Art of the Iconoclast. Association of College and Research Libraries. 2013. Print.

Walker, Jill. Distributed Narrative: Telling Stories Across Networks. Bergen: University of Norway Department of Humanistic Informatics. 2004. Print.

Wallace, Margot. Writing for Museums. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. Print.

Zinn, Howard. “Secrecy, Archives, and the Public Interest.” The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy. New York City, NY: Seven Stories Press. 2011. Print.

Pegatinas writing assignment – featured SLU student research – Jamie Abraham ‘15

The fall 2013 pegatinas final writing writing assignment for Dr. Marina Llorente’s ESP 439 seminar Literatura, cine y cultura en la España contemporànea went really well. Having the students first annotate the images made a big difference. Students were also given the chance to submit preliminary drafts of their work to get feedback on their writing. The students who annotated images, conducted additional research, and revised their writing subsequently aced the assignment. During the upcoming week, I am going to post examples from several students to be able to show others this process of writing about stickers. Today’s featured student is Jamie Abraham ’15, and she gave permission to have her work included on Stickerkitty. She analyzed a group of stickers about environmental issues in Spain. Here are two.

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  1. Text: Safe? — Nuclear? — No, Thank You!
  2. Image: Skull disguised as nuclear power plant
  3. Logo: Joves d’esquerra verda, an environmental organization that focuses on the betterment of Cataluña and a youth sub-organization of the political party Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (Iniciativa por Cataluña Verdes).
  4. Link: joves.cat. Main website for Joves d’esquerra verda
  1. Texto: Segur? — Nuclears? — No, Gràcies!
  2. Imagen: Cráneo disfrazado como centrales eléctricas
  3. Logo: Joves d’esquerra verda, un grupo ecologista que enfoca en el ecosocialismo de Cataluña y es una sub-organización del partido político la Iniciativa por Cataluña Verdes.
  4. Enlace: joves.cat. Sitio de Joves d’esquerra verda

Description

This sticker was created by Joves d’esquerra verda. They provide a link to the interactive and informative Web site, and the organization’s logo is also presented on the sticker. The text Segur? translates to Safe?. Coupled with the image of a skull underneath the nuclear power machine illustrates the message that nuclear energy is not safe for citizens and will propose real issues for humans and the environment. A fifth of Spain’s energy is nuclear via seven power plants, with the recent closure of one in Garoña. This sticker highlights the lack of information provided by nuclear companies to citizens regarding issues of environmental and human health. However, it demonstrates the effort of a politically associated group, and more importantly a youth organization, that shows the proactivity of the younger generations. This sticker presents the widely translated phrase in opposition to nuclear energy Nuclears? No, gràcies. This indicates the large movement of regions refusing nuclear energy. The situation above ground seems innocuous; simple structures and blue skies suggest nothing is wrong. Segur? questions this appearance and underground the truth is revealed; the bold text No, gràcies is placed close to the skull to draw the eyes of the reader to the dangerous repercussions of nuclear energy.

Descripción

Esta pegatina fue creado por Joves d’Esquerra Verda. Provee el vinculo a su página web interactiva y informativa, y el logotipo de la organización se presentan en la pegatina. El texto Segur? se traduce en seguridad?. Junto con la imagen de un cráneo debajo de la máquina de energía nuclear ejemplifica el mensaje de que la energía nuclear no es segura para los ciudadanos, y propondrá problemas reales para los seres humanos y el medio ambiente. Un quinto de la energía de España es nuclear a través de siete centrales eléctricas, y un cierre reciente de uno en Garoña. Esta pegatina recalca la falta de información provee a los ciudadanos por las compañías nucleares sobre las cuestiones de la salud ambiental y humano. Sin embargo, demuestra el intento positivo de un grupo político, y más importante, un grupo juvenil, lo que muestra las acciones preventivas de los jóvenes. Esta pegatina ofrece la frase común del mundo en oposición de energía nuclear pero en catalán, Nuclears? No, gràcies. Esto indica el gran movimiento de las áreas que se niegan la energía nuclear. La situación sobre la tierra parece inocuo con el cielo azul y las maquinas simples. La pregunta Segur? duda esta escena y debajo la tierra se revela la verdad; el texto en negrita, No, gràcies se coloca cerca del cráneo para dibujar los ojos del lector a las repercusiones peligrosos de la energía nuclear.

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  1. Text: Nuclear? No, Thank You — No To The Centralized Temporary Storage — Close Garoña… And The Rest
  2. Image: Smiling sun symbol of antinuclear organizations worldwide, created in 1977
  3. Logo: Ecologists in action — Ecologistas en acción
  1. Texto: Nucleares? No, Gracias — No Al ATC (Almacén Temporal Centralizado) – Cierre De Garoña… Y De Todas Las Demás
  2. Imagen: Sol sonriente símbolo de organizaciones antinucleares mundiales, crea en 1977
  3. Logo: Ecologistas en acción

Description

Simple, yet effective sticker illustrating the necessity to abolish nuclear energy usage and to close power plants. The text is bold and grabs the attention of the audience. It is not overly aggressive, but is firm in its request. “No to nuclear energy. No to the ATC” (Almacén temporal centralizado de España/Centralized Temporary Storage), which is a project to expand current nuclear waste facilities to accommodate high activity level waste from Spain, France, and the UK. Opposition highlights the lack of economic benefits, the risks of building facilities and transporting high-level waste, and the overall discomfort and apprehension from citizens. This sticker calls for the closure of Garoña, a nuclear plant in Burgos, Spain, and continues to request closure of the rest of Spain’s seven nuclear power plants. The smiling sun is the international symbol of anti-nuclear organizations and its presence suggests the inclusion of the rest of the world in rejecting nuclear energy. Finally, the logo for Ecologistas en Acción propagates their presence in fighting for environmental issues.

Descripción

Simple, pero efectivo pegatina que ilustra la necesidad de abolir el uso de la energía nuclear y cerrar las centrales eléctricas. El texto en negro atrae la atención de la audiencia. No es demasiado agresivo, pero es firme en sus peticiones. “No a la energía nuclear. No a la ATC” (Almacén Temporal Centralizado de España), que es un proyecto de ampliación de las instalaciones de residuos nucleares actuales para dar cabida a los residuos de actividad alta procedentes de España, Francia y el Reino Unido. La oposición incluye la falta de beneficios económicos, los riesgos de la construcción de instalaciones y transporte de residuos de actividad alta, y el malestar general y la aprehensión de los ciudadanos. Esta pegatina pide el cierre de Garoña, una central nuclear en Burgos, España; continúa solicitud de cierre del resto de las centrales nucleares. El sol sonriente es el símbolo internacional de organizaciones antinucleares y su presencia sugiere la inclusión del resto del mundo al rechazar la energía nuclear. Por último, el logo de Ecologistas en Acción propaga su presencia en la lucha por las cuestiones ambientales.

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From here, I will work with Arline Wolfe, the SLU arts metadata technician, to polish the writing and to add links and subject headings to each item in the Street Art Graphics digital archive. The biggest news ahead, however, is that I’m making a case at St. Lawrence to have the University sign up for Artstor’s Shared Shelf Commons, a free, international, open access digital image library of arts and sciences. Artstor is one of the best platforms I’ve come across in terms of publishing digital image collections, but I’ve avoided using it in the past because content is only available to paid subscribers (like colleges, universities, museums, etc.). However, with the Shared Shelf Commons, users can now post materials and make them available to everyone, everywhere. More to follow!

Pegatinas Writing Assignment Part One: Annotating Images for Digital Archive

For the upcoming assignment at St. Lawrence University to have Marina Llorente’s students analyze political stickers from Spain, I decided to split the project into two parts. Part One will ask students to annotate the images, and Part Two will ask students to use the annotations to write about what the stickers mean (i.e., what are the larger issues that the stickers point to?). I’m doing it this way now because the last time we offered the assignment, students did well contextualizing the stickers but sometimes forgot to describe all of the textual and visual elements of the stickers. Those descriptions are important in a digital archive because people access images through word searches. If descriptive words are missing, access is curtailed. Descriptions fields are so thorny! If you think about it, one needs to list everything in the sticker, but one also needs to provide historical and cultural background and draw attention to issues beyond the sticker itself. Below is what I prepared for Part One of the writing assignment using this sticker from the Izquierda Anticapitalista (Anti-capitalist Left).

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ASSIGNMENT

For this assignment, you will be analyzing political street art stickers from Spain for a Street Art Graphics digital archive that is publicly available on the gallery’s Web site:

1. The first step is to annotate the images. This will help you with your analysis.

2. Open the image file in Preview and click on Tools/Annotate/Text.[1]

3. Choose a contrasting color and type large numbers onto all of the visual and textual elements in the image including each line of text, the images, logos, Web sites, and anything else. Number these elements in a way that makes logical sense. The most important elements should be listed first. Every element in the sticker is there for a reason, so it’s your job to figure them all out. After you number the elements, save and close the file. If you need to re-number anything, you’ll need to re-start with the raw image file again (once the numbered file is saved and closed, it locks the annotations in place). You’ll see below how #1A, #1B, #1C, and #1D all indicate text; #2 indicates a face; #3 indicates a logo; #4 indicates a Web site; and #5 indicates a QR code.

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INSTRUCTIONS

#1 text: Type all of the text that appears in the sticker in a way that makes logical sense. For cataloguing purposes, the first letter of each word is capitalized, and the remaining letters in each word should be small (not capitalized). Use a dash between different sections of the text so that it reads in a normal, common sense way. If the text appears in Spanish, translate it into English in the same fashion. Any and all Spanish text in the sticker should be in written in italics.

#2 image/color: Identify who or what is being represented in the image (people, objects, buildings, graphic design elements, color, composition, i.e., everything!) and include any other information that seems relevant or important. Be as specific as possible. For example, in my description below, see how I put “photo portrait” of Angela Merkel instead of “picture,” “drawing,” “illustration,” etc. “Portrait” here also implies head vs. her entire body in action. I also noted who Merkel is and how the type font affects our interpretation of the text. In terms of color, most stickers are either black on white or black and other colors on white.

#3 logo: Describe the logo’s shape, color, etc. and what the logo suggests. Does it play off any other existing logo (i.e., is it a form of “culture jamming”)? HINT: Take a close-up screen shot of the logo and drag the image file into Google Images and see what you find. It’s a handy way to see if and how the logo relates to anything else. Sometimes, it’s the only way to find out!

#4 Web site: Describe the purpose or function of the organization that created the sticker.

#5 QR code: Find the Web site where the QR code sends you. Is it something else besides the organization’s main Web site? What is the purpose of the Web site?

ACTUAL EXAMPLE OF ANNOTATED STICKER

#1 text: Des Obedece – ¡Su Deuda No La Pagamos! – Vota Anticapitalistas – Anticapitalistas.org; Disobey – ¡We Are Not Paying Their Debt! – Vote Anticapitalists! – Anticapitalistas.org

#2 image/color: Photo portrait of German politician Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany (2005-present). Her face is covered by a large circle that hides most of her eyes, nose, and mouth. The use of a bold graphic type font suggests an urgent appeal for a response. Black and army green on white.

# 3 logo: Faceted star-shaped logo for Izquierda Anticapitalista or Anticapitalist Left.

#4 Web site: www.anticapitalistas.org for Izquierda Anticapitalista or Anti-capitalist Left, a Spanish revolutionary, ecologist, feminist, and internationalist organization that fights against all kinds of exploitation, oppression, and domination over people and the environment. The full-color logo in red, purple, and green signifies the different ideas that the organization supports: socialists or communists (red), feminists (purple), and green movements (green).

#5 QR code: A QR code on the sticker points to the Web site http://www.anticapitalistas.org/elecciones2011/index.html, which encourages people to vote for an alternative anti-capitalist government during the Spanish general election on November 20, 2011. The Web site states, “El 20N desobedece” or “The 20N disobeys.

Part Two: Writing a 150- to 200-word analysis of the sticker, placing it in a social and historical context. More information to follow!

[1] Photoshop is also fine for annotating images.

Marina Llorente – Fall 2014 Spanish writing assignment

SLU professor Marina Llorente will be having her students analyze stickers from Spain again this semester for her course Español 439: Literatura, cine y cultura de masas en la España contemporánea. She gave this assignment in the fall of 2012 (see previous posts on Catalonia stickers from 1970s-80s and stickers from Madrid, summer 2012, Solicitud de pegatinas españolas / Request for Spanish stickers, and New stickers from Spain for digital archive and writing assignment), and the students enjoyed it quite a bit. I’ve spent the last couple of months making a concerted effort to expand my Spanish sticker collection for this project and now have over 500 examples from different parts of the country (Madrid, Barcelona, Asturias, Galicia, etc.) dating from the 1980s to present day.

To prepare for the assignment, Marina and I met last week to go through my recent acquisitions from several contributors: the Spanish poet Jorge Reichmann, SLU professor of Spanish Steven White, Oliver Baudach at Hatch Kingdom, and Gabriel Garcia Ruiz and other contacts in Spain. Marina and I put together seven sets of eight stickers each representing a variety of socio-political themes: the environment, political parties, gender, the Spanish Constitution, workers’ unions, student strikes, and the Catalonian separatist movement. Students will work in pairs to write short bilingual description fields for each sticker that will be added to the Street Art Graphics digital archive. It’s a lot tougher than it may sound to write these description fields. One needs to list all of the visual and textual elements (subjects, logos, colors, composition, graphic design, etc.) and outline what these elements represent or mean. Descriptions are limited to 150 to 200 words each in English and Spanish.

Here is one from 2012 written by Michael Hickey ’13:

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Solidaridad Con La Resistencia Minera — Izquierda Anticapitalista (Solidarity With The Miner’s Resistance — Anti-Capitalist Left)

“In the spring of 2012, in response to the Spanish government’s severe austerity measures, Spanish miners from Asturias united to raise awareness and call for justice. With high unemployment, the miners became guerrilla freedom fighters looking to save their jobs and the mining industry. The protesters went on strike in late May and shut down the country’s coal supply to protest the government’s decision to reduce mine subsidies by 63 percent. Anticapitalistas.org is the Web site for Izquierda Anticapitalista, an organization that fights against ‘oppression, exploitation, and the domination of people and nature.’ The sticker depicts the profile of a man wearing a knitted watch cap and a bandana to conceal his identity. The sticker also contains a QR code, easily scanned with a smart phone application to spread the resistance movement.”

En la primavera del 2012, en respuesta a las severas medidas de austeridad del gobierno español, los mineros españoles de Asturias se unieron para concienciar y pedir justicia. Con un desempleo alto, los mineros se convirtieron en guerrilleros por la libertad intentando salvar sus trabajos y la industria minera. Los manifestantes fueron a la huelga a últimos de mayo y cortaron el suministro de carbón del país para protestar en contra de la decisión del gobierno de reducir el subsidio minero al 63 por ciento. Anticapitalistas.org es el portal de la red Izquierda Anticapitalista, una organización que lucha en contra de ‘la opresión, explotación y la dominación de la gente y la naturaleza.”’La pegatina presenta el perfil de un hombre que lleva un gorro de lana y un pañuelo para ocultar su identidad. La pegatina tiene también un código QR que puede escanearse fácilmente con la aplicación de un smartphone para diseminar este movimiento de resistencia.”

Here’s another one from the same student:

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Lluís Companys I Jover — 1883-1940

“This tribute sticker presents a photograph of Lluís Companys i Jover over stripes of yellow and red, two colors synonymous with Catalonia and the region’s long struggle to become an independent state. Companys was actually born in 1882 and was the leader of the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) or Republican Left of Catalonia. Founded in 1931, the ERC remains a nationalist party that seeks independence from Spain. Companys served as President of the Generalitat of Catalonia between 1933 and 1940. After the Spanish Civil War, he went to France but was later captured by the Gestapo secret police and sent to a Spanish jail where he was tortured and later executed by a firing squad. Companys was one of the most influential martyrs of the Catalonian separatist movement, and his death has inspired thousands of nationalists who seek independence.”

“Esta pegatina homenaje presenta una fotografía de Lluís Companys i Jover sobre rayas amarillas y rojas, los colores de la bandera catalana que remiten a la larga lucha de la región por llegar a ser un estado independiente. Companys nació en 1882 y fue el líder de Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) o la Izquierda Republicana de Cataluña. Fundada en 1931, la ERC sigue siendo un partido nacionalista que busca la independencia de España. Companys fue presidente de la Generalitat de Cataluña entre 1933 y 1940. Después de la Guerra Civil, se marchó a Francia pero capturado más tarde por la policía secreta de la Gestapo y enviado a una cárcel española donde fue torturado y más tarde ejecutado por un pelotón de fusilamiento. Companys fue uno de los mártires más influyentes del movimiento separatista catalán, y su muerte ha inspirado a miles de nacionalistas que buscan la independencia.”

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As a side note, I needed to scan some additional stickers yesterday for the upcoming assignment. My associate at work, Carole Mathey, asked if it was a hassle to do all this scanning, but I described how it allows me to get to know the stickers a little better. Sometimes I see things in the digital image more readily than in print, and the scanning, cropping, and color correcting forces me to look very closely at each image. Carole called it “speed dating.” A muted, light grey version of Picasso’s Guernica is represented in the background of this sticker underneath bold red letters, for example, which I didn’t notice until I scanned the sticker.

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ZINE! Sneak preview

My friend Amy Hauber at SLU is helping with the graphic design for the Re-Writing the Streets exhibition zine.  Here is what she did with the photograph from my previous post for the page spread on U.S. historical political stickers.  We hope to send this puppy to the printer in the upcoming week!

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New sticker zine

I’m making a sticker zine for the Re-Writing the Streets traveling exhibition. I used to make a lot of zines with students when I taught bookbinding and a course on artists’ books. Back then we used old-fashioned copier machines, scissors, and glue sticks. Now I’m using Photoshop software and trying to learn a little InDesign, and it’s a lot more complicated. It will look good when it’s done, though. A friend of mine at school is helping with graphic design, too, thankfully. Of the over 800 stickers in the show, I’ve selected about 250 for a 28-page zine. I’ll probably have to narrow it down further, however, in order to make sure there’s enough room for text and photographs. Here is one of the pages I finished today listing some of the artists in the show. Back to scissors and glue sticks!

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Mysterious directional stickers in Berlin

Yesterday while biking around Prenzlauer Berg and heading toward Wedding, I came across another rash of mysterious directional stickers on sign poles along Eberswalderstraße.

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This was after finding directional stickers last spring further south along Stresemannstraße and turning onto Zimmerstraße. The stickers are typically orange (or faded orange) with an arrow or arrows pointing straight ahead or turning left or right.

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A couple of times, there would be a blue triangle nearby pointing in the same direction, as if the streets are telling us something.

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I also found two orange arrows last year by Marianneplatz on Bethaniendamm. On all three occasions, I photographed the directional stickers using my Canon SX 280 HS camera with built-in GPS unit, so you can see pictures and their locations on this Flickr map.

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This morning, I looked at the photos I took yesterday. I didn’t see it at the time, but that blue triangle appears again on a few sign poles, too.

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Weird! Three separate locations in the city, but what’s in common?

 


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