Photos

A Photographer Sees Tiny Planets in San Francisco's Rusty Fire Hydrants

Finding worlds in aging infrastructure.

Image
Adam Kennedy

Some people see Jesus in their French toast, and some see Africa in watch machinery. Adam Kennedy, a student at San Francisco State University, sees planets in the city's 19th-century fire hydrants.

"It just revealed itself to me," he says of one of San Francisco's unusual ball-topped hydrants. "It mimicked the shape of a planet."

With the aid of Photoshop, Kennedy has since helped dozens of rust patterns evolve into frozen tundra or lush, Earth-like paradises, outcomes he says are dictated by the worn-down infrastructure itself. "If I try to force my idea on it it doesn't work."

The photographs, which he collects on his website "Planet Universe," made a splash on Reddit last weekend. Now, Kennedy has launched a Indiegogo campaign. He wants to turn his planets into posters, t-shirts, and a coffee table book.

He's since come into contact with other found worlds, like Christopher Jonassen's frying pan planets, or similar projects that imagine geography in grease-stained pizza boxes or rust patterns.

It all began, Kennedy says, with a fascination with texture. "The growth of the moss on a brick spoke to me," he says. "The patterns kind of imitated how forests might grow on the surface of a rocky landscape."

He says he doesn't mind the strange looks as he photographs the city's fire hydrants -- as long as the gawkers don't get in the shot.

 

All images courtesy of Adam Kennedy, via Planet Universe.

HT Reddit.

About the Author

  • Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.