For the last four years artist Jon Rafman has been trolling the world of Google Street View, looking for scenes that capture the crazy, weird, wonderful and tragic world that we live in.
When he finds a suitably bizarre tableau captured randomly by Google’s fleet of Street View vehicles -- a man in a gas mask crouching in the woods, a baby crawling in front of a Gucci store with no parent in sight, a tiger ambling through a mini-mall parking lot -- he’ll take his own picture of the scene. He publishes his photos online on a Tumblr site, and also makes physical prints that have been shown in galleries around the world.
Over time Rafman has developed a process to make the art of finding his scenes less time-consuming. He keeps track of where Google Street View cars are working, and then goes to those spots online a few months later when Google has uploaded fresh imagery. This way he can surf through the most recent images, and if there is anything controversial it is less likely to have been edited by Google yet.
So far, he has captured about 200 dreamlike and occasionally depressing scenes that make up his 9-Eyes project, but says he has snapped thousands of online photos that have caught his eye. (9-Eyes refers to the nine cameras attached to Google’s Street View vehicles that capture the panorama of the world.)
Rafman shows us that the world as captured by the neutral eye of Google Street View is just as strange as the world that we live in, if you know where and how to look.