by Louise Andrew
About the Book
Six years ago, Google sent out an army of hybrid electric cars, each one bearing nine cameras on a single pole. Armed with a GPS and three laser range scanners, this fleet of cars began an endless quest to photograph every highway and byway in the free world. Google Street View images are supposedly made for mapping functionality and the focus of the camera machine is to register everything without selection. GSV is simply a representation of reality on a specific day and is a global scale exercise in photo collection and processing. It is a way of recording our world, an archive of observations. Street View is not not only a cartographic tool but also a repository of source images. Millions of people around the world use Street View’s navigational tools to look at their house that they presently live in and also their past abodes. This is an unusual phenomena and it raises the question as to to why humans want to view what they already know, the familiar? Is there a sense that in locating our past and present we locate ourselves in relationship to the world? Do we gain a sense of place and a place of sense.
I began a virtual walking project where I went to look for my mother in virtual space. My mother makes a walk everyday from her home to the local village, a place that I am familiar with as this was where I spent my childhood before locating to the other side of the world. I consider that Google produces a dehumanised world by the indifferent gaze of Street View and in looking for my mother I wanted to re establish the human. A street view image can give us a sense of what it feels like to have everything recorded, but no particular significance accorded to anything. In looking for my mother the recorded takes on a significance. Looking for my mother in cyberspace created both an element of personal immersion but also one of detachment. Walking in the present looking at the past, this is my photographic collection of still people walking.