Monday, 4 October 2010

Street View Art - A Street With a View


What's this oversized feather and headless rooster in Google Street View doing on the free plot next to the road? It is actually a massive 'poulet' and it didn't get there by chance, did it?
As it stands Google Street View gets actually quite boring after the first rush of voyeurism has sort of worn out a bit, but there is something very exciting about this.

SWAV_chicken
Image taken from Google Street View / The chicken at Arch Street/Sampsonia Way crossing.

After these only two years since Google started rolling out the Street View 'service' it ha become so everyday that there is little excitement attached to it anymore. It is handy though at times.
I was reminded of the Street View 'service' a couple of days ago through the 'The Wilderness Downtown' project which reinterprets 'We Used To Wait' by Arcade Fire as a music video which was run through Google Chrome as an HTML 5 promotion. It is great though and producer Chris Milk makes good use of Street View. However, surprisingly few projects have really picked up on the service and used it as raw data or working tool. It has in certain field rather produced a sort of repulsion and anti Google projects were developed as in F.A.T.

However, in the early days, and this was back in 2008, a more subtile project was actually integrated directly with the raw data, the images recorded by the official Google Street Car. "On May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way." (StreetWithAView)

The resulting images still form part of the imagery accessible through the Google Map platform via Street View. Hewlett and Kinsley staged a series of street scenes around Sampsonia Way in Pittsburg including a Mad Scientists Lab or a Garage Band which was recorded by the passing Google Street View car.

The artists have arranged for a great variety of different activities or scenes across the relatively short length of the road. A complete list of scenes can be found HERE.

SWAV_science
Image taken from Google Street View / The mad scientists lab.

In the making of clip, below, the artists explain the idea. Note how they struggle to explain what Street View actually is: a sort of Quick Time VR for all the road in the city. By now this has changed and Street View as in how-it-works-what-it-is has become a brand and is a term at the same time. Much as Google is for finding something on the internet.



As such the project should actually have had more of an impact and could even in terms of city marketing have a relevance. The 'location factor' has in the past couple of years had a dramatic impact on location and place and the project beautifully illustrates how it could be performed on a rathe rough and globally accessible level.

More so, than opposing and attempting to legally argue about privacy, vintage point and the hight of a fence, communities could in a collaborative effort put together a live show of the neighbourhood and stage their local area as a place as unique and divers as the people who live in it. So get our friends together check the Google Street View car schedule and make up your story of the Neighbourhood. Now thats a show.

SWAV_parade
Image taken from Google Street View / The carnival scene

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