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Did That Fire Hydrant Just Check Me Out?

These trippy urban GIFs give new meaning to the phrase "living, breathing city."

Hey, did that fire hydrant just look at me?

Why yes, yes it did – and so did that iron bollard, that electrical box, and that weird, floating ball of black goo lurking inside a pay phone. Thanks, but this call can wait.

Following a new ordinance requiring residents to "Make Portland Weird" at least once a week – not really, but sometimes it seems like it – multimedia artist Zach Dougherty is animating common street fixtures so that they appear sentient. Why? Well, if they entertain people with their bizarre blend of humor and freakiness, why not? The 24-year-old artist seems to enjoy making them enough that he's built a huge collection of trippy GIFs, some urban-related, others hilariously not.

Doughtery recently got it touch to explain his process, writing:

They are created with photos I have taken around the world. Many are from Portland, where I live and work. These works all stem from multiple photographs of a like object. I use a variety of programs depending on what I am trying to accomplish. The usual suspects for software are panoramic, photogrammetry, 3D animation, compositing, and match-moving. 

Here's to Dougherty for putting a new spin on the phrase "a living, breathing city":


Somebody needs to shoot this hyperventilating pelican with a tranq dart:

And in an undisclosed storage space, somebody is hiding the Moon they stole:

Images courtesy of Zack Dougherty. H/t to Urbanshit

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.