Unusual Google streetviews

9 Eyes is an amazing endless Tumblr site that collects unusual images from Google’s streetmaps. Some of them are really beautiful, some of them just plain weird and scary. It’s called “9 eyes” after the lenses mounted on the Google cars. Click here to go through to the website – you won’t regret it. They’re collected by Jon Rafman, who says:

“Today, Google Maps provides access to 360° horizontal and 290° vertical panoramic views (from a height of about eight feet) of any street on which a Street View car has traveled. For the most part, those captured in Street View not only tolerate photographic monitoring, but even desire it. Rather than a distrusted invasion of privacy, online surveillance in general has gradually been made ‘friendly’ and transformed into an accepted spectacle.”

“Initially, I was attracted to the noisy amateur aesthetic of the raw images. Street Views evoked an urgency I felt was present in earlier street photography. With its supposedly neutral gaze, the Street View photography had a spontaneous quality unspoiled by the sensitivities or agendas of a human photographer. It was tempting to see the images as a neutral and privileged representation of reality—as though the Street Views, wrenched from any social context other than geospatial contiguity, were able to perform true docu-photography, capturing fragments of reality stripped of all cultural intentions.”

“Within the panoramas, I can locate images of gritty urban life reminiscent of hard-boiled American street photography. Or, if I prefer, I can find images of rural Americana that recall photography commissioned by the Farm Securities Administration during the depression. I can seek out postcard-perfect shots that capture what Cartier-Bresson titled “the decisive moment,” as if I were a photojournalist responding instantaneously to an emerging event. I can also choose to be a landscape photographer and meditate on the multitude of visual possibilities.”

“Although Street View stills may exhibit a variety of styles, their mode of production—an automated camera shot from a height of eight feet from the middle of the street and always bearing the imprimatur of Google—nonetheless limits and defines their visual aesthetic. The blurring of faces, the unique digital texture, and the warped sense of depth resulting from the panoramic view are all particular to Street View’s visual grammar.

“Many features within the captures, such as the visible Google copyright and the directional compass arrows, continually point us to how the images are produced. For me, this frankness about how the scenes are captured enhances, rather than destroys the thrill of the present instant projected on the image.”

(text extracted from this essay, which you should look at, because he includes images to go with the text)

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