The 9 Eyes of Google street view and visual culture

This title might need some explanation. You probably all know about Google streetview. These images are made by a camera that is mounted on top of a car and this camera has has 9 different lenses; therefore this is also known as the 9 eyes of Google. The Canadian artist Jon Rafman collected images from Google street view that captured unusual moments everywhere in the world; with these images he had an exhibition in the Saatchi gallery in London.

These cameras from Google now and then capture weird, unusual, funny moments. Rafman tries to be the first to notice these pictures, even before Google had the chance to blur the unusual aspects or even remove the pictures. Google already removed a lot of these pictures from the web, but a huge selection has been remained thanks to Rafman.

For example there are pictures of a child falling of his bike, an accident that happened on the streets of Mexico, prostitutes working on the sides of the streets, a man walking around with a stop sign, and many more.

But besides all these things that have been captured by accident, there are also situations that are provoked by the Google cars and the camera, for example children running towards the car in a township, people walking towards the car with guns, a deer running away from the car in Norway.

Personally I really liked this work from Rafman. He made something that we all use on a regular base, at least I do, into an arts project. While he actually didn’t do anything with the pictures, he just pointed out the things that happen around the world. This for me shows that the use of visual culture can be in the smallest things and when it is put together in a good way, with a good story something can all of a sudden become really interesting.

Below you can find some examples of the street view images as they have been used by Jon Rafman. For more examples and other projects take a look at his website www.jonrafman.com

Nicole

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