Google Street View may seem frightenly big brother, but there’s no satellite peering down on your every move, providing accurate traffic updates and realistic weather. Rather, a van just drives along the street, with a nine lens camera snapping photos, then blending them together with a GPS location. On the last update, I was excited to see that my recycling bin, set out for pickup, made it into the shot.
But, of course, there are much more interesting things than recycling bins that have been captured. Like, well, people. Artist Jon Rafman pours through these images, finding magical moments that happened to have been captured as the van was driving by. He calls it “Street View surfing.”
“The Canadian artist spends much of his time culling Google Street View for strange, surreal images, photographs of prostitutes or criminals, and rare instances of camera malfunction, and he has assembled one of the very best Street View compilations we’ve seen. “Google places a comment, ‘report a concern,’ on the bottom of every single image,” Rafman has written, in a refreshingly lucid artist statement. “How can I demonstrate my concern for humanity within Google’s street photography?” This website is an elegant, forceful answer.”