Erik Nordenankar’s “Self-Portrait” — the world’s biggest drawing

Erik Nordenankar's "Self-Portrait"

From Erik Nordenankar’s website, “Biggest Drawing in the World”:

With the help of a GPS device and DHL, I have drawn a self portrait on our planet. My pen was a briefcase containing the GPS device. Being sent around the world, the paths the briefcase took around the globe became the strokes of the drawing.

Fascinating to me that this drawing exists only as a list of geographical coordinates which are the reflection of an arbitrarily developed means for using the Earth. It’s possible only because of mankind’s ceaseless need to conquer terrain, using a process that, not coincidentally, I suspect, began with a simple mark drawn with a finger in the dust.

The first question that comes to my mind is this: Was this trip really necessary? Couldn’t Mr. Nordenankar have simply traced out this drawing on a map and called it a day?

Further, what is our assurance that this trip ever took place? Isn’t every component subject to counterfeiting, from the DHL slips right down to DHL’s database?

How different — and how much more significant — is Nordenankar’s self-portrait from a drawing I might create with a laser pointer from star to star in the night sky?

For me these questions don’t denigrate The World’s Biggest Drawing at all, in fact they deepen my experience of it. There’s a “Greatest Show on Earth” aspect to it that almost demands that deception play a part, the entertainment value of which might be blown out to puffy-haired sequin-suited bombasticity by a David Copperfield, a David Blaine, or any other given deceiver/entertainer. Yet, like most art pieces of its ilk, it comes freeze-dried, with plain-lettered explanations and the plainest possible layout.

This in spite of the name — The World’s Biggest Drawing — which has Vegas written all over it. I want to see this presented on five acres of digital screen in front of the Bellagio, with Wayne Newton singing tribute, and a gift shop offering T-shirts, sweatshirts, ball caps and signed prints in limited editions of 500,000.

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  1. May 26, 2008 @ 11:16 am

    Nikolas Schiller Said,

    GPS Drawing was created by Hugh Pryor & Jeremy Wood and is generally used to show location-based drawings on a smaller, more localized scale. This project is more of a guerrilla marketing campaign for DHL than an art project.

  2. May 27, 2008 @ 8:19 pm

    Bill Said,

    Hold the presses, kids — turns out to be a fake. From Wired:

    Artist Admits He Didn’t Actually Use GPS, DHL to Create ‘Biggest Drawing in the World’

    …The artist has added a line to the bottom of his webpage stating “This is fictional work. DHL did not transport the GPS at any time.” And DHL confirmed that Nordenenkar never went any further than a warehouse the company allowed him to film in.

    There’s been quite a bit of this going around lately, although I’d point out that this latest instance lacks the ambition, manipulation and, perhaps, even the showmanship of Aliza Shvarts’ abortion hoax project.

    Interesting also that, in the past couple years, quite a few celebrated authors have proven to be complete liars, not to mention plagiarists, as well.

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