"Sunshine, a light which, for want of a better word I can only call yellow — pale sulphur yellow, pale lemon, gold. How beautiful yellow is! "
Vincent Van gogh
Letters to his brother Theo (1872-1890), Arles, August 1888

“Nobody walks in L.A.” This is what I was ironically told when arriving at the California Institute of the Arts in 2007. As a foreigner without a car, I had to walk anyways, trying to understand the city of Los Angeles from its limits in Valencia. Every day I crossed a bridge over Highway 5 and each time I stopped to watch the passing cars and trucks. The bright yellow line painted on the concrete of the road fascinated me: its color and its brightness were a sample of the California sun, a piece of the Golden state.

This yellow line made me discover the city: it brought me to the California Transportation "Striping Crew". I followed them while they poured miles of yellow paint onto the concrete of Los Angeles. With them I got to know the biggest and most congested network of freeways in the United States, and built my understanding of Los Angeles, a gigantic city where people meet everyday, but at 60 miles per hour on the freeways. Millions of cars per day, from which 75% drive alone, despite traffic and smog.

In this setup, The Stripers, being the warrants of the security of the traveling public, maintain the functioning of the whole city. I shadowed them over the years, and gathered collateral materials of their paintings: canvases used to empty the totes and clean spray guns, miles of lines captured on tape, repeated gestures of an endless task, very similar to that of a painter.

With this material, I made a documentary film and multi-channel video installation. I used the yellow lines, an ubiquitous element of our daily life, as a starting point for reflection about our urban environment, our ways of using and dividing space.

Despite all of California’s environmental efforts, the need for massive transportation is an increasingly important issue, but I am interested in how this transportation system can sometimes generate an amazingly rich and interesting material, almost by accident.

The Canvases, bringing us back to American abstract expressionism, are strikingly powerful paintings once framed. The glass beads originally needed to reflect the car lights give here more depth and luminance to the projected paint. The endless hypnotic movement of the videos brings the viewer to a light trance, like a reminding of a past travel, a visual leitmotiv seen so many times but never noticed.

Bringing the audience to look at elements of their own environment trough my eyes, the fascinated eyes of a foreigner discovering Los Angeles for the first time. I hope to feed the debate of transportation with a playful reflection on Art, framing the simultaneously mundane, beautiful, and epic nature of the yellow linear labor.

Simon Rouby