Wednesday, October 20, 2010

View Of The Street

Thanks to Michael Wolf's upcoming show "iseeyou," Google maps is crossing over into the art world. In his exhibit, Wolf makes a statement about urban life and our quickly depleting privacy given the advancement of technology. Part of the exhibition is comprised of a series called "Street View: A Series of Unfortunate Events." I always did wonder how Google managed to compile such a seemless view-- the company's automobile trolls the city streets with 9 mounted cameras, capable of capturing the world in 360 degrees.

Wolf switched out his camera for the screenshot tool on his computer and milled the streets of cities around the world, virtually speaking that is, to find an unexpected moment.
Wolf isn't the only one fascinated by this outlet. The Telegraph compiled a collection of funny Street View images for this feature (my favorite is the very first one), and Rhett Dashwood used the satellite feature to find landforms that resembled the 26 letters of the alphabet. There are whole blogs dedicated to it.

This is not without posing this same sort of question framed by Wolf, how far is too far when it comes to images and our privacy? At this point, we all know full well that the 1984 reference is very much true. Or maybe it is just those of us who are parnoid? It's related closely to a pertinent issue with street photographers - like Jeff Mermelstein said, "I'm, in a sense, stealing something from them without asking them..." referring to the subjects of his images- and for some (read: ME) it is the most taxing part of the process, getting the guts to stick your lens right where you want it to be, no matter who notices.

In that sense, and perhaps I'm just biased, my opinion is that it is okay. It's for art. But please, I want to hear your thoughts.

Photo credit (from top): by Michael Wolf, from his exhibition iseeyou opening on October 28th at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery; from Rhett Dashwood's Google Map Typography series; courtesy of the Telegraph.

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