John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Here are a few short films about the hard-working construction crews who dispose of your trash.
In the real word, when you toss litter on the sidewalk it either washes into the sewers system or gets picked up by a more evolved human. But the folks who made these clever CGI flicks don't live in the real world: They imagine a universe where tiny vehicles dispose of street trash, sometimes (in the case of a torpedo-launching submarine) with extreme prejudice.
Made by the creative team at Rushes, "Tiny Worlds" presents three short machine-on-litter stories from an imagined, ankle-high London. There's that submarine battling a tossed-out cigarette (it's yellow, of course), as well as a logging truck collecting burnt matches and a bulldozer battling a stubborn deposit of chewed gum. Though fantastical, given the rapid-pace development of drones and nanotech one could easily see some kind of litter-zapping robots patrolling the sidewalks of the future – maybe a less evil version of those creepy spiders from Minority Report?
The London arts scene seems to be enjoying a brief flirtation with miniature creations. Before "Tiny Worlds" there was "Roy's People," a project to seed the city with wee humans doing stuff like getting killed by a mousetrap and, again, messing with nicotine-stained butts.