These images were taken from a Google program called Google Street View, wrested from this virtual worldexactly when they are moving to change, in that split second in which the image exists and doesn’t exist.
It happens just like that in the first photographic experiments during the first half of nineteenth century, whenthe photographic image didn’t last for a long time on the film and eventually vanished. I found it interesting that the same issue of mid-nineteenth century comes up again today in a completely technological world after more than 150 years.
«[…] tutti i viaggi possibili sono già descritti e gli itinerari sono già tracciati. Le isole felici care alla letteratura e alle nostre speranze, sono ormai tutte descritte, e la sola scoperta o viaggio possibile, sembra quello di scoprire l’avvenuta scoperta. Così analogamente il solo viaggio possibile sembra essere oramai all’interno dei segni, delle immagini: nella distruzione dell’esperienza diretta» .
Una serie di viaggi compiuti su immagini, le cui tracce vengono trasferite su altre immagini che, pur appartenendo a un’epoca che precede gli schermi, non riusciamo più a guardare in modo diverso da come guardiamo uno schermo. Due momenti estremi della rappresentazione cartografica si sovrappongono l’un l’altro, per descrivere un viaggio che può essere compiuto solo con l’immaginazione , o con il mouse
Luigi Ghirri, Atlante, in Luigi Ghirri, Parma, 1979, p.75
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In today’s culture it is now widely accepted that there exists a virtual space, a space that refers to reality, shapes, colors and sounds, but differs in its physical intangible characteristics.
Everything now goes through this rectangle light, we are connected to the real world through screens forexample, computers, cell phones and ipod etc. We live in the real world through these simulations.
Using Internet sites which are dedicated to online chats with web cams, I noticed that some people I talked withwere surrounded in darkness – the only source of light that illuminated them was the monitor of their computer.
I re-photographed the webcam images of these people and their lit faces.
Light portraits,where the light impresses directly on the illuminated face and leaves the rest in obscurity, the space disappears, leaving the face surrounded by darkness.
We approach the world through a screen, through the dimensions of this visual rectangle we remain in constant contact with everything that surrounds us,a two-dimensional reality, in which the field that receives the gaze is always vertical, a field, or a screen, or a monitor that contains everything we need. Nowadays we have more to do with the multitude of screens : any television, telephone or computer being turned on attracts and almost forces us physically to follow what is happening. We are so focused on translating the world from a screen that we often lose the ability to see the world without mediation.
In the series “Alphabet for building” (2009), I traveled around the world using Google Earth and looked for satellite images of urban buildings.
Seen from above, these buildings have lost their own identities and reveal new shapes, often similar to analphabet letter.
I gather these images to develop a new narrative.
This work was born as a consequence of The illuminated men. While in the previous work we could see only people’s faces, in this work it is exactly the opposite. Rooms, bedrooms and offices are visible through some web cameras but we cannot see anybody. The spaces are as “abandoned properties”. Sometimes a gust of wind moves the curtains at the back, sometimes we can see a cat jumping onto the sofa, but we never see human figures.
The web cams are left on for hours at these inanimate landscapes, where everything seem to be blocke. Only some small details show us that we are not watching a still picture but a video in real time.
A lot of controversies about privacy issues have been triggered at the launch of Google Street View because of such a detailed level of the images that make possible even recognitions of people faces. On several fronts the program was being requested to darken the faces and car license plates. Currently the software implements an algorithm which automatically identifies individual car plates and faces, and thus darkens them graphically. However, the initial alarm about the privacy invasion caused by the software has been curbed. This work shows images of the performative participation of these worldwide users who happily greeted the passing of the Google car, consciously wanted their faces to be recorded.