Videos

An Animated Allegory of the American City's Oil Addiction

Sometimes you just need a Google Maps monster to fully convey the state of auto-dependency in America.

Image
Patrick Jean

It's hard to know where to begin in introducing this short film, which turned up on Vimeo a few days ago from graphic designer and animator Patrick Jean (also behind the widely circulated 2010 short "Pixels"). "Motorville," as this new animation is titled, tells the story of the American city's addiction to oil in under three minutes, with a mashup of OpenStreetMap* monsters, foreign conquest and spilled oil (for the full effect, we highly recommend turning on the sound, from David Kamp).

Jean introduces the video this way on his own website: "It was actually a very complex and painstaking production, mixing coding, animation, sound, some 3D, and love for unhappy endings."

As he told the website 1.4, the short was originally commissioned by an American TV channel, although they opted not to air it after seeing the finished product. Wonder what that says about the audience for commentary like this?


Motorville by Patrick Jean from Iconoclast on Vimeo.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the video was produced using Google Maps data, rather than OpenStreetMap.

About the Author

  • Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific StandardGOODThe Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.