Google Street View started in 2007 as an experiment in five cities, but Jon Rafman’s series The Nine Eyes of Google Street View—which captures intriguing scenes documented by the Internet giant—reminds us that the mapping project has expanded to far-flung corners of the world. As attested by Unknown Road, Knock Killua, Westmead, Ireland, 2011 (2011), the interstitial and liminal spaces that diverge from direct routes and busy metropolises are no longer excluded from Google’s all-seeing gaze.
Positioned atop a vehicle, the Street View camera is a self-directed robotic apparatus programmed to capture its surroundings without concern for composition or decisive moment. Mirroring this disregard for photography’s traditional values and utilizing a similarly hegemonic device is Rafman, who, rather than using a camera at all, photographs by taking screengrabs on his computer. His hands’ keystrokes become the subjective anomaly in a highly regulated and utilitarian series of actions. The resulting images are poetic meditations on a system of great control, allowing the viewer to devise their own narratives for the captured subjects, such as this lonesome man on an unknown road.
The Vancouver City Centre Station is curated by Capture Photography Festival and presented with the participation of New Documents.
For the multi-sited public art project On and Off the Road, Capture has installed photo-based artworks on the exteriors of Canada Line stations across Vancouver. The series broadly considers how modes of mass transportation can simultaneously be places of intense control while remaining emblems of freedom and adventure in the Western pop cultural imagination. The artworks consider the road narrative in modern and contemporary art, literature, and film, as well as the limits of that narrative and the need for alternatives.
Presented in partnership by
Capture Photography Festival and the Canada Line Public Art Program—InTransit BC