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How this artist used Google Earth to craft a record-setting wedding proposal

Google Earth is a tool for exploring the world around us. But for some intrepid artists like Yasushi Takahashi, it’s a canvas – and their feet are the paint.

In 2008, Tokyo resident Yasushi “Yassan” Takahashi knew he wanted to propose to his girlfriend, Natsuki. He just wasn’t sure how.

Then one day he stumbled across GPS art: the act of creating a large-scale digital drawing by traveling with a GPS device along a predetermined route. When the route is uploaded to a mapping tool like Google Earth, a form takes shape.

Yassan plans his route using Google Earth A bowl of food at one of the stops along Yassan’s journey
Yassan, laying in his car, checks his route on a paper map

Yassan had an idea: What if he planned a route across the entirety of Japan that spelled “Marry Me” and presented his completed trip on Google Earth as his proposal? He set off in June, quitting his job and embarking on a meticulously planned journey from the island of Hokkaido to the shores of Kagoshima.

Some six months and 4,451 miles later, his “Marry Me” drawing was complete. The proposal landed him the Guinness World Record for the largest GPS drawing in history.

Now Yassan is one of a growing number of people who create GPS art with tools like Google Earth and Google Street View.

Part of the appeal is its unique fusion of drawing and travel. Runners and cyclists use it as motivation to change up their routes, while others enjoy the creative challenge of drawing anything from pigeons and dinosaurs to fictional characters.

The end result is limited only by what people can dream up – and where their feet can take them. Explore a gallery of GPS art created by other artists from around the world.

Meike Nixford, “Your Earth Transforms”
Yassan Takahashi, “Wild Boar 2019” Jeremy Wood, “Meridians”
Jenny Odell, “Satellite Collections” Paul Bourke, “Spain”

Images by other GPS and Google Earth artists, clockwise from left: Meike Nixford, “Your Earth Transforms”; Yassan Takahashi, “Wild Boar 2019” ; Jenny Odell, “Satellite Collections”; Paul Bourke, “Spain”; Jeremy Wood, “Meridians.”

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