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August 1, 2012

In response to Thingiverse’s “Capture Your Town” challenge I’ve captured several locations in Anaheim; “my town”, broadly speaking, being Southern California. These are significant locations here, for horrible reasons:

The first 3D photoscan is of an ephemeral memorial marking the location where Manuel Diaz was shot to death by Anaheim police on July 21, 2012, at 704 North Anna Drive.

This memorial is a public display—those signs are there to be read, and to call attention to the physical place where this event happened — but if I had felt even the slightest cue from anyone in the area that I was intruding or unwelcome, I would have left without photographing anything. When I asked permission, a resident of the building waved me into the gated yard so I could photograph the area behind the fence where Diaz died, handcuffed, face down in the grass. As I was photographing, there was a birthday party with children playing in a bouncy house 40 feet away. (You can just barely see it in the next scan.) Eventually this spot will be reclaimed by children at play too; the memorial won’t last forever, and this photoscan, crude and ethereal as it is, may prove more permanent.

The second photoscan is of the spot about 250 feet away, at the corner of North Anna Drive and La Palma, where the residents who had immediately gathered were backed up against the intersection. Here, a few hours later, the police met them with “less-than-lethal” small arms fire fired directly into the small crowd of unarmed men, women, and children. A police dog was released into the crowd here too. However poorly rendered in my scan, it’s a real place.

The third photoscan is of Anaheim City Hall, where an overflow City Council meeting spilled into the streets, and where police opened up with more “less-than-lethal” fire on citizens, including credentialed, mainstream media journalists.

The fourth photoscan is of the Anaheim Police Department. As I was photographing, a truck cruised by slowly, holding up traffic behind them. Two women leaned out of the truck to shout taunts at the police building. There was raw disgust and contempt in their voices—it’d be hard to describe, other than that they were focused. There were no police in sight—they were shouting at the building and what it symbolizes to them; people vest a lot in “things”. Barricades have been erected, police in camouflage military uniforms now stand guard, and news vans wait for chaos.

The fifth scan: a church. As I was leaving, trucks pulled into the parking lot of the Iglesia Ni Cristo directly across the street from the police department. Workers began boarding up the church windows in anticipation of what may be coming to this particular corner of “my town”.

20200126c Anaheim Poster

Tech-related observations:

While I was photographing, I met someone who’s been walking around the neighborhood for a week, broadcasting a live and semi-live video stream from a DIY rig consisting of a smartphone, a steadycam mount, and 48 hours of continuous-use battery life. He’s broadcasting via Ustream under “CrossXbones” here.

Here’s someone else—”Timcast”—doing the same thing, broadcasting—untethered—a semi-live telepresence: Timcast

Here’s Timcast experimenting with a home-brew streaming-video aerial surveillance drone late last year: Drone

Seeing all the news vans, with their antenna masts extended thirty feet in the air, it occurred to me that they’re probably just a few hundred dollars’ worth of equipment upgrades away from being able to broadcast a live 3D map of their locations. Maybe just two webcams on the masts, offset for stereoscopic capture. Two or more stationary vans synchronizing continuous mast-cam feeds could produce a stream that could be sliced and stitched into a detailed, navigable, real-time 3D environment.

—Cosmo Wenman