21.1.11

frame

"Walking as an artistic practice is a well established method (and it is worth recalling that “method” itself is derived from meta- (above, or after) and –odos (road), roughly designating the road once taken): from the “anti-walks” of the Parisian Dadaists of the 1920s, to the psycho-geographical Situationist dérives of the late 1950s, the cross-country treks of the Land artists, and the contemporary erratic ambulatory architecture of the Stalker collective, art-informed deambulation has achieved the status of an autonomous artform."
http://northeastwestsouth.net/node/367

Google Streetview http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streetview is an online digitally encoded landscape photograph of near indefinite extensibility (limited to where the camera has been). The user has the illusion of moving into the photograph as though it were a real space along prescribed paths - eg public roads - with the facility of being able to pan around each scene using a computer mouse and onscreen aids. Clicking on a circle that appears as a rollover hovering above the road ahead allows the viewer to progress to a different vantage point, proceeding in incremental hops rather than a smooth transition through space. During the transition the landscape blurs like a cinematic jump through hyperspace. Each panorama is assembled and stitched together as a composite and one is proceeding in digital leaps from node to node from one panoramic image to another. The photos made with a special camera rigged on top of the Google car aren't necessarily contemporaneous and there are points where you can travel along the street and change seasons for example. The user moves in the present through an image of the past that contains events frozen in the manner of a photograph while still retaining the sense of being present in a passing landscape. There are intriguing glitches where photos don't quite align and the bottom of the frame is often rendered as a distorted blur. Sometimes the Google car captures its own shadow. At time of writing it is still possible to see Trinity Square car park in Gateshead and the street events organised by some artists for the Google car in Sampsonia Way Pittsburgh http://public.fotki.com/punkpedal/sampsonia-way/. The technology doesn't have the total immersiveness of a videogame or Second Life and seems to occupy a transitional point in the evolution of computer interfaces with the world. At present Streetlview lacks the kind of user generated information already available in Wikimapia but has started to include the kind of commercial data that Augmented Reality technology will eventually make ubiquitous. Users can upload photographs which hover between being landscapes in their own right and data for the Streetview project - a total visual catalogue of the world in places not available to the camera car, with all the concomitant implications of self surveillance that may have. One data layer is a superimposed line oriented along the road and suspended above it that contains the name of the road and other information. Streetview has already been added to mobile phone mapping apps. The latest Google cameras have 3-D mapping capabilities which will eventually enable a much more immersive virtual experience.

The convergance of mobile technology with satellite navigation and the move away from a phone handset to heads-up display spectacles will potentially make every glance a cornucopia of facts and retail opportunities layered on to the world in real time. As a clunky, already redundant tool of representation Streetview provides something of a rehearsal for the world to come but at present it is an anomolous ideosyncratic place where virtual travel may be contemplated. Blogging about a virtual world combines two aspects of web technology and creates the potential for exporing new ways in which writing and the world may be combined more directly.

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