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Automated art and intent: interpreting Street View photos

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Last August, Canadian artist Jon Rafman posted an essay, with photos, called The Nine Eyes of Google Street View. It's an interesting and thoughtful and occasionally slyly funny piece about photography and art and interpretation, even in the absence of an artist per se:

[This] new form of photography may have removed the photographer from the mechanical process, but Street View photographs nonetheless remain cultural texts demanding interpretation.

He also has some thoughts about curating—the images he shows are, of course, his conscious choices from among the collection he's chosen from the Street View photos that various bloggers have chosen.

Then, too, although there's no conscious mind behind the framing of each individual Street View photo, Google did specify the original criteria: camera height, choice of streets to drive, etc.

I particularly like some of of Rafman's asides:

Even though Google places a comment, 'report a concern' on the bottom of every single image, how can I demonstrate my concern for humanity within Google's street photography?

I don't feel that his concluding paragraph is entirely supported by the rest of the essay, but I do like the side note/caption preceding that final paragraph:

It is we who must make sense of Google's record of our experience, for good or for ill.

(Thanks to Annalee for pointing to the article at io9.)

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Or, strip away the justifications and put it in the form of a song...

Cruisin' For Chicks On Google Maps


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