Updated: Feb. 8, 2014

Elinor Diamond, the artist who won the Mission Local contest to turn the tech bus into a vehicle for art, has asked that we replace the Google Street View she used in her original entry with a different Street View.

The Street View of the original art included part of storefront painted by Jet Martinez, an artist who did not want to be part of the contest. It also included the opening to Clarion Alley where some other artists opposed to the tech buses and the contest have art. The artist and the judges were unaware that the storefront was a Martinez work.

Although Diamond’s image had been up on the site for more than two months, once it won, it triggered a barrage of comments from these artists and others — raising questions of who owned the image, art and feelings toward the Google buses.

While Mission Local was happy to stand by Diamond’s original work, it is her work and the decision to replace it is hers to make.

She wrote in an email, “I wrote to Rigo and Jet personally because we know a lot of the same people and I couldn’t handle the venom behind so many of the comments….I told them that I would send over another mock-up to ML of the same concept using different screenshots and request that ML pull the original. After all it was the concept that won, so I guess we can see if it has legs with other imagery…And another using a street-view of Mountain View. Now we can all see what we’re missing out on.”

Diamond is right, the concept was most important. The Street Views possible are endless. Once again, her entry shows a sense of humor, an element reflected in one of her original images and also in those from many others.


The entries are in, the judges have spoken and Mission Local will award the $500 prize in its unofficial contest to bedazzle the tech buses to Elinor Diamond for a design that wraps the shuttle in an image from Google’s Street View.

Diamond, a Mission resident who we have not yet spoken to, chose an image that includes the Valencia Street entrance of Clarion Alley and the pink Community Thrift Store. In the end, Diamond’s design appealed to us on multiple layers and it was the simplicity of the idea and the complex response that put it over the top.

It brings “the virtual world to the street,” said Andrea Valencia, our translator and a Mission resident.  “The image blends the bus in with the street giving them the camouflage the tech community seems to want. I also like to think of it as a moving mirror of our urban landscape.”

Mark Rabine, a contributor, my husband, and a Mission resident for more than 30 years, added, that in an age of ambiguity “using the Google Earth image conceptually raises both light and dark aspects of digital technology.”

Others liked the layered sense of the entry, but for a different reason. The street view Diamond chose underscores art and giving — both have deep roots in the Mission.

Using a Google street view also offered a simple solution to wrapping a bus in the iconography of any neighborhood. It was an idea that other entries used including one by Jon Voss, called Time Travel. It too was popular along with Let It Leak by Ulrika Andersson, Cattle Car by David Lawrence, and Wheels by Claudia Escobar, a former videographer for Mission Local who now works on contract at Yahoo.

We launched the contest last fall after my return from a year-long break from the Mission. As I told a local news site at the time, I was surprised to see how many buses were going through the neighborhood.  The lack of any identifying markers made them oddly anonymous while their size made them impossible to hide. The white frames of many reminded me of unpainted canvases.

As long as the buses are around, it seemed like a good idea to make them and their passengers less separate from the community. I also thought the contest might encourage some of the companies that run the shuttles to hire local artists to do the work. At least one has agreed to. Genentech called in November to say that it would select one of the entries to wrap one of its buses this year. What others will do is anyone’s guess, but we will make an effort to sell them on our winner.

Of the more than four-dozen entries that we received, at least 15 had a critical message, sometimes subtle, sometimes blunt and often with humor. At least four, including Let It Leak played on the theme of surveillance.

In addition to the front-runners, judges also flagged several of Stephanie Syjuco’s designs — including Public Comfort and Raft of the Medussa.

As in Syjuco’s designs, the element of humor stood out in many of the entries — from Mike Esplin’s Lyft to My Other Car by Ifton Schlinger and Erno Raitanen’s Aw Snap, Something Went Wrong. Mike O’Connell’s Googling, with a Craigslist view of apartment prices, was perhaps the most direct in capturing one element of tech’s impact.

The 11 judges included myself, Mark Rabine (who submitted “George Orwell” but was not allowed to vote for it) and George Lipp, who are contributors, Ana Aguilar, who works in outreach, Rigoberto Hernandez and Erica Hellerstein who are reporters, Hélène Goupil, an editor, Andrea Valencia, who is our translator, Rohan Saltry, a computer science student at UC Berkeley who also works with Mission Local, Amanda Martinez, a former videographer and designer for Mission Local who works at NBC in New York, and Mads Hallas Bjerg, a 29-year-old visiting tech entrepreneur and philosophy student from Denmark. All but four have lived in the Mission.

Thank you to all who submitted work.