Google Streetview at the New Museum

24 Nov

Artist Jon Rafman scours the photographic outputs of and selects the most narratively compelling, bizarre and beautiful among them to create curated collections of … pictures of randomly captured moments from around the globe.

What seems mildly wonky is that, while these images pass through a state of semi-authorlessness and are recontextualized in the museum (and hence “elevated” to art status) there are tons of “Check out this ker-azzzy Google Streetview image” posts and even pages floating about online that remain categorized as non-art. The ends are often the same – while some selections are, of course, about the hilarity of catching someone randomly peeing on a stop sign in Iowa, others have the kind of cinemtaic quality of a Gregory Crewdson photograph (and are sometimes just as artificially set as with the hoax Streetview Miracle Birth picture posted on Gizmodo this week – see comparison below).

Streetview Miracle Birth (probable) Hoax

Gregory Crewdson

I definitely plan to see the show – it looks fascinating. But I have to admit that I kind of resent the “special sauce” sprinkled over this feat of doing exactly what many have been doing for some time but with an MFA and a connection at the New Museum. I know this is a typically facile criticism but it’s still bubbling up …. Judgment (mostly) reserved until I actually see the show. I guess.

NB: It’s part of the NM’s “Free” exhibition which “explores how the internet has fundamentally changed our landscape of information and our notion of public space.” Fairly strong reviews thus far. A lot of interesting MES & MCC-relevant work.


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