Collection of Rene & Veronica di Rosa Foundation, Napa, CA and
Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA
Steel, ink on paper
4 in. × 88 in. × 20 ft.
Extended Loan to Ballett Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
Shipping crate used for transport to Frankfurt:
UNTITLED (Minuet in MG)
MG Midget (1974), steel, paper, plastic, concrete
15 in. × 26 in. × 65 ft.
The seven-story tall sculpture, Untitled (Minuet in MG),
contains a 1974 MG Midget sportscar that was donated,
shredded, steamrolled, photographed, bagged, labeled,
numbered, and filed by weight from heaviest to lightest
in milligrams (mgs) — an MG in mgs.
The sculpture now holds the Guinness World Record for the
“tallest file cabinet on earth,” and the DMV registration
for the shredded car filed inside the cabinet officially
indicates possession by its owner.
Collection of Rene & Veronica di Rosa Foundation, Napa, CA
ROW B, PLOT 33
Dirt, concrete, undeclared object
36 in. × 96 in. × 108 in.
The sculpture, Row B, Plot 33, is composed of 6 tons of dirt removed from a cemetery plot that was purchased in Shasta, California and transported to a gallery in San Francisco, California.
The dirt was tamped into 1 ft. square bricks and assembled on the gallery floor as a literal real estate transaction: the artist bought a plot of land and took it home.
In addition, the cemetery deed, officially registered with Siskiyou County, now indicates the owner of the land—which is also a sculpture.
Private Collection, San Francisco, CA
Cemetery plot where the dirt was removed:
BIG PICTURE FRAME
Steel, glass, vinyl, durst lambda
48 in. × 96 in. × 96 in.
The sculpture, Big Picture Frame, contains a full-scale bus shelter advertising an anonymous campaign for self-identity.
Described by one art critic as “waiting for Godot in cyberspace,” the internet domain registration officially links the sculpture to its owner.
Collection of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco, CA
Cremated remains on canvas
1 3/4 in. × 21 in. × 47 in.
The painting, Vern, is composed of the cremated remains of an
unrecognized painter named Vernon Koski, who aspired to be
in a museum during his lifetime and now hangs in the permanent
collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).
Koski’s lifelong dream came true when his wife answered a
classified advertisement to “Donate Your Ashes To Art; Let Your
Loved One Live On.”
An independent documentary film has been made about
the life of Vernon Koski; it helps to expand the painting’s
romantic turn-of-events by allowing Koski’s artwork — seen in
the film — to reach a wider audience after his death.
In addition, every time the painting travels — even temporarily —
an application, permit, and affidavit must be filed with
the county to identify its current location. Thus, one additional
page is added to Koski’s death certificate each time the painting
travels, leaving an official paper trail of current and previous
locations of the artwork.
Collection of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco, CA
Modified death certificate, new final resting place:
Permit to transport, modify death certificate:
THE COLOR OF PALO ALTO
26 sq. mi. × 365 days
Commissioned by the City of Palo Alto Public Art Commission
Early paint can mock-up, 2001-2003:
Early data sampling rig with mounted chromoscope (digital camera), GPS, digital compass, and
laser distance meter; early data visualizations using GIS maps, 2001-2003:
Early data visualizations using paint to create paintings, 2001-2002:
The First Photo-Assisted 9-1-1 Emergency Response System in the United States:
"The Color of Palo Alto" created the nation's first photo-assisted 9-1-1 emergency response system,
pioneering and popularizing citywide, street-level digital photography in Silicon Valley starting in 2001.
The 9-1-1 system was built in October 2003 and presented to a standing-room only crowd at the
California GIS Conference, San Jose, CA in February 2004, showing the possibility, affordability, and
usefulness of citywide, street-level digital photography for City Planning, Public Works, Disaster
Assessment, Emergency Response, Real Estate, etc. Afterward, Yates was contacted by researchers
around the globe, ranging from tech companies in Silicon Valley to the national rail service of Italy
wanting to document their entire rail system.
The process was quite simple. After "The Color of Palo Alto" was complete, the City of Palo Alto would
have a photograph of every parcel in the city. Meanwhile, they already had a 9-1-1 system based upon
their parcel map in the GIS. When a call came through, the parcel of the caller was highlighted in the GIS
and 9-1-1 operators could thereby understand the neighborhood context of the call based upon this
overhead map of city parcels; they could also click on the parcel to see a list of attributes, such as number
of rooms, number of floors, square footage, etc. On the left-hand tool-bar in the GIS interface there was
space to place a thumbnail photograph of the parcel, which had never been done before, that when clicked
could be enlarged, and that enlarged photo could then be reduced or dismissed. If there were two
photographs, or more, such as when a parcel was on a corner and had two photographs, or when a parcel
occupied an entire block and had four photographs, there was still space for these additional photos in the
toolbar. The city implemented the image field in the toolbar in October 2003 and Yates took sample
photographs to populate several parcels and prove that it worked. From that point forward, the artist's
photographs were part of a working 9-1-1 system. A first-in-the-nation system.
Chronology of Citywide Street-Level Photography in Silicon Valley:
2001 - The Color of Palo Alto
- 2001 Public proposal to City of Palo Alto, televised.
- 2002 Fundraising; public presentations; televised.
Building permit process for Civic Center Plaza begins.
- 2003 Image field (space designated for photographs in a user interface) for Yates integrated
into existing City of Palo Alto 9-1-1 emergency response system and populated with real
sample images that worked and remained in the system thereafter; exhibition; press; televised.
Building permit process for Civic Center Plaza continues.
- 2004 Demonstration of 9-1-1 and GIS system to California GIS Conference, San Jose, CA;
"Best Art Project in Bay Area" by San Francisco Magazine, other press, etc.; televised.
Building permits granted for portable solar garage in Civic Center Plaza.
Public installation with explanatory display located in Civic Center Plaza at 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto;
First meeting with VP at soon-to-be-launched Google Maps in 2004 explaining learnings
and usefulness of the citywide photographs from "The Color of Palo Alto" to the GIS and 9-1-1 system
(second meeting after Google Maps launch in 2005).
- For years, it was common knowledge in Palo Alto that an artist was going around the city taking photographs
of every property with a digital camera, for very little money, and had discovered how useful such photographs
could be when tied into the City's GIS; this drew interest from local tech companies, justifying their own
investment in and experiments with such systems.
2005 - Amazon A9 Block View
- Amazon A9, a skunkworks for Amazon, was headquartered at 450 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto (two blocks away
from "The Color of Palo Alto" located at 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto). Amazon A9 staff stopped by
"The Color of Palo Alto" explanatory display, located in front of City Hall in Civic Center Plaza, and spoke to
Yates during the previous year 2004 on their way to lunch at Whole Foods a few blocks away. They launched
Amazon A9 Block View the following year 2005.
2006 - Microsoft Streetside
2007 - Google Street View
Photo-assisted 9-1-1 system built in October 2003 and presented to the California GIS Conference, San Jose, CA in February 2004:
3D model of portable solar garage:
Built and installed, the portable solar garage charged the electric scooter and equipment inside with renewable energy;
used as a laboratory, the structure referenced Palo Alto's history of garage inventors: namely, the original Hewlett-Packard
detached one-car garage--an official landmark known as "The Birthplace of Silicon Valley"--a few blocks away on Addison Avenue.
Electric scooter and mounted chromoscope (digital camera), GPS, digital compass, and laser distance meter
used for data sampling. Yates stayed true to Palo Alto hometown company Hewlett-Packard by using an HP digital camera
to take the color samples and find the color of the city (photo by Jamie Kripke for Dwell Magazine):
The entire City of Palo Alto displayed A to Z, January to December, on the front of City Hall:
First window panel starts with Winter, January, and A Streets, includes 1st, 10th, and 35th streets, alphabetically:
Detail of entire city:
Installation on City Hall:
Proclamation from the City of Palo Alto declaring "The Color of Palo Alto" the official color of the city:
Bronze plaque approved by the City of Palo Alto Public Art Commission for placement in the Civic Center Plaza
to commemorate the location where "The Color of Palo Alto" was discovered:
The final average colors of the entire City of Palo Alto in HSV:
The first average refers to the aggregate of the parcels and the second average refers to
the parcels themselves. For example, for a street with ten parcels we can find the mean average
color of each parcel, so we then have ten different mean average colors, one for each parcel.
Then, if we find the mean average of those ten mean averages (to find the average color of that
street), we have the Mean average of Mean averages, or "Mean of Means", or "MeMe", or "meme",
"Mean of Means" or "meme" = Mean average color of the mean average colors of each parcel.
"Mean of Modes" or "memo" = Mean average color of the mode average colors of each parcel.
"Mode of Means" or "mome" = Mode average color of the mean average colors of each parcel.
"Mode of Modes" or "momo" = Mode average color of the mode average colors of each parcel.
HSV was invented in Palo Alto at XeroxPARC: it is the hometown color space:
Sample average colors of seasons:
Sample average colors of dates:
Sample average colors of months (shows cloudy Winter skies (white), clear Summer skies (blue), in Mode of Modes):
Sample average colors of neighborhoods:
Sample average colors of streets that begin with the letter "H":
Sample average colors of parcels:
Sample plaid based on four average City colors in HSV:
GPS path around Palo Alto, January to December:
"The Color of Palo Alto" Paint Cans - Mode of Means, Mean of Means, Mean of Modes, 2008:
“Best Art Project in the Bay Area”
-San Francisco Magazine
Copyright 1996–2017 Samuel Yates. “The Color of Palo Alto” is a trademark of Samuel Yates.
The information contained herein is subject to change without notice.
The artist shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.