Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Objective Art

So Jon Rafman, an artist, is taking images of people captured on Google street view and blowing them up, presenting them as artworks. Here's a Rafman quote from this Gizmodo post about the artworks:
The world captured by Google appears to be more truthful and more transparent because of the weight accorded to external reality, the perception of a neutral, unbiased recording, and even the vastness of the project.
Now, I obviously have some misgivings about the potential objectivity of anything, much less something as subjective as art, but this is about the closest thing to it that I can think of; the pictures on Google street view are taken by a nine-lensed camera mounted to the roof of a car. As far as I can tell, it's an automated system; there's no real agency aside from the driver's choice of where and when to drive (and, if you look through the gallery, you'll see that there's no way a driver could have predicted some of this stuff).

Jeez, what would Benjamin think? This goes way beyond mechanical reproducibility. Of course, we have to realize that not every image taken by the Google cams reach the same aesthetic levels. It seems, then, that the "art" aspect really comes from the artist's selection of the images more than the images being taken themselves.

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