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Roadways You Can Install Like Throw Rugs

Courtesy of Erik Johansson

Magic carpets you know about. Aladdin had one. But how about this?

A country road carpet? Walk into a meadow, drag it behind you, and wherever you go, the road settles perfectly into place. That's Erik Johansson doing the dragging, and, I don't know, he doesn't seem to be straining very hard. The carpet looks like it should weigh a few tons but, judging from his easy stride, it appears to be feather-light (not to mention wrinkle-free). Building roads should always be this easy.

But it isn't. It takes muscle, lots and lots of mental muscle in Erik's case, to create a road like this. He's a photographer and, as he puts it modestly, "a retouch artist" from Sweden, based in Berlin. What you see here is a meticulous fantasy — part photograph, part construction, part drawing. There are so many layers of foolery in his images, you can't pull the illusion apart, it fits together so perfectly — that's the achievement.

But we can take a peek at what it takes, how hard it is, how painstaking, by checking out another of his road pictures. Again we're in Sweden, and whoever built this one obviously hasn't finished it yet, which is going to be a problem for that guy on the bicycle ...

/ Courtesy of Erik Johansson
Courtesy of Erik Johansson

... but this video shows how Erik conceives and executes his fantasies — beginning with him walking along a road all alone, when something makes him stop, put down his backpack and look around ...

When you see how carefully he handles that single upside down tree, its roots tipped skyward, the mud, even the tendrils of grass so perfectly rendered, it's amazing what he's done: A country road has become a carpet of earth so magical, even Aladdin would be jealous.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Robert Krulwich works on radio, podcasts, video, the blogosphere. He has been called "the most inventive network reporter in television" by TV Guide.