The mysterious artist that is Google Streetview

Yesterday, I saw the Google streetview camera car in my city – twice!

corner of John and Hunter

Hopefully, there will be two pictures of me soon on streetview in Hamilton – one waving at the camera from the corner of James & Cannon and the other from near the bus station. At the very least, I got a wave back from the gentleman driving the google car. Also a bonus is the fact I was wearing one of my new t-shirts I silkscreened this weekend (see post below). Is it silly for me to feel so giddy for having a chance to be included on this service? I feel like I have just had my portrait taken by a famous artist.

Well, hold on, I guess that won’t happen because Google now blurs the faces of people captured on their streetview cameras. But my artwork on my shirt will hopefully not be blurred out.

Though I think of the service as a giant artwork by a giant entity, I know of a lot of artists who are doing really interesting work by pulling stills of scenes that the camera happened across.

So I decided to look for sublime, poignant scenes myself and decided to look along forested, remote areas in eastern California and the results are below. I could probably spend the rest of my career doing this – way too much fun. Anyways, an aspect that fascinates me is the automatic face blurring algorithm and this seems to apply to facial-esque compositions the service finds in nature as well. See below.

I jumped into an initially very strange view – parts of the landscape were missing or stretched. Had I lucked into a crack in the fabric of reality?

Yes, I had landed inside this cliff. I felt like Buckaroo Banzai. Once I moved outside of the cliff, i could not venture back into it.

Moving down the road a bit, I saw an example of the facial blurring script in action in the bush on the left. A mystic experience of a face in the bush? Google seems to think so.

Upon further inspection from a different angle, the “face” disappears.

Further along, we start to see patterns of light cascading. If this was real life and I was there, I would be totally freaked out. I also feel like I could be the first person to view some of these angles in this remote area this way. Does that make me some sort of explorer?

More ripples of light with two tentacles reaching out from the sun. Google street view is, in a way, the view of the earth from the eyes of an H.P. Lovecraft monster.

Reject being called an artist – when making art, be a somebody

Being defined as an artist is really an exercise of enduring others’ expectations of what that word means.

If you imagine yourself as an artist, you see flashes on imagery of people, walls, works and words about you – your path is distorted already by these illusions. Your fantasies are wrapped up in this word, but those fantasies are not really about you are they? Maybe you feel pressure to desire what others assume you want.

“An artist created this” brings a suspicious assumption to what “this” is, and even whether this is an artist or not.

“Chris made a painting” is undeniable, powerful and makes one damn curious to see what it is.

If you identify yourself as your name and reject the label of being (or not being) and artist, you have removed a huge roadblock on your path to meaningful work and self-articulation. You are you – create what you want when you want and don’t worry about being an artist. That is for others to decide, and why would you ever want to tackle an irresolvable problem when others are willing to wrestle with it?

Don’t want to stop self-identifying your self as an artist? You should probably take a long, hard look at what you are actually trying to do and why. A real artist would.