21 August 2009

Google Street View documenting humanity

I just read the most fascinating and beautiful post on Art Fag City about how Google Street View is an objective, impartial snapshot of humanity today. I had no idea such gems could be found there! It reminded me of this post about digital serendipity; you never know what you'll find as you're poking around the world from your desk.

Jon Rafman – the artist & guest blogger of the post – brings up about a million good points, but some of my favorites were about how Street View records the world: as it exists, at that very moment, in whatever state it is.
The world captured by Google appears to be more truthful and more transparent because of the weight accorded to external reality, the perception of a neutral, unbiased recording, and even the vastness of the project.
It definitely different from photographers who spend hours taking 500 shots, only to pick one that is perfect, no?

The last part of that quote – about the vastness of the project – is brought up again later: If Google chooses, their systematic storing of panoramic views serves photography’s historic role of cultural preservation. This could be a different version or perspective on things like the LIFE archives, maybe?

Rafman also brings up how technological phenomena like Street View are ongoing symbols of our world & how we interact with it evolves all the time. This very way of recording our world, this tension between an automated camera and a human who seeks meaning, reflects our modern experience. Beautiful, a little wistfully sad, and squeakily delightful all in one.
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