Self-portrait with GPS

An art student sets out to create the "biggest drawing in the world" with the help of a GPS device and a global package-delivery company.

Update, 5/27, 5 p.m. PDT: The student has admitted that his tale is a hoax. Read the follow-up here .

A Swedish art student has posted online what he calls the "biggest drawing in the world," though the picture would seem to be more accurately described as a drawing on a rather modest scale that came into being through a round-the-world technique.

Perhaps that's why a sort of subtitle on Erik Nordenankar's Web site, just above the image, is this: "GPS Generated Self Portrait."

The technique is described this way: "My pen was a briefcase containing the GPS device, being sent around the world. The paths the briefcase took around the globe became the strokes of the drawing."

On the "biggest drawing" Web site, details are sparse, but Nordenankar does also thank package delivery service DHL for helping to make the portrait possible.

He writes that the briefcase began a 55-day circumnavigation on March 17, ending up earlier this month back where it started in Stockholm, Sweden. He then downloaded the GPS information--the trip covered 62 countries on six continents--to his computer and made the self-portrait in a single stroke.

I've sent e-mails to both Nordenankar and DHL for more information and will update this post as I learn more.

While the briefcase's travels may (or may not) have followed the adage that the shortest route between any two points is a straight line, the drawing itself involved more than a few loop-de-loops and curlicues.

You can see Nordenankar's drawing technique in action in the video here, one of two videos on the "biggest drawing" site, along with the full self-portrait.

Is it a hoax? The little bit of evidence I've found so far in poking around the Web suggests that it is not. For instance, there's a similarly hirsute Erik Nordenankar listed as a student at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden--with an exam project described as none other than the "biggest drawing in the world."

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About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.

 

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