Using a system called chroma key (that acts in several ways like a green screen) Kuckenbaker was able to remove, re-insert, and layer both backgrounds and objects—giving the appearance of remarkable mass action happening in a short time frame. Through this method, he was able to isolate car patterns and condense their cycles—turning what would otherwise be dry transportation data into a moving, visual representation of life in San Diego.
The curious phenomenon of the cicada’s periodical life cycle is the subject of much debate among scientists, who are limited to no small extent by the infrequency of the insect’s visits to the surface. Most agree, however, that climate shifts — notably the rapid warming following the end of the last ice age — have played a role.
There are seven species of periodical cicadas in North America, four bound to a 13-year cycle, three in a 17-year cycle. All are characterized by black and orange bodies, and males woo their mates with species-specific choruses that can be deafening in large numbers.
The genetic similarity of these seven species suggests a common ancestor in the last 8,000 years. And because emergence seems closely linked to soil temperature and moisture, it is likely that climate has played a role in both regulating their life cycles and cueing their appearance.