Image via Paolo Cirio’s Picasa album
One of the most useful features of Google Maps is Google Street View. Using the feature, users are able to easily contextualize the directions the company’s map service provides: “Oh, the place I have to go to is next to a Pizza Pizza.” However, an untended consequence of that usefulness is that it captures, without their permission, people out on the street and posts their image to the Internet. Street artist Paolo Cirio, inspired by these images and the privacy concerns they represent, embarked on a project called “Street Ghosts.”
Cirio places posters of people caught on Google Street View at the exact spot where they appear online. Thus far, Cirio has placed his posters in cities like New York, Berlin, and London and he plans to visit more cities in the future. If there is a Toronto street ghost you’d like to see from him, you can suggest one using his site‘s online submission form.
Screencap of one of Cirio’s inspirations – via Google Street View
As for why the artist embarked on this project, he states on his site: “This ready-made artwork simply takes the information amassed by Google as material to be used for art, despite its copyrighted status and private source. As the publicly accessible pictures are of individuals taken without their permission, I reversed the act: I took the pictures of individuals without Google’s permission and posted them on public walls. In doing so, I highlight the viability of this sort of medium as an artistic material ready to comment and shake our society.” The artist’s full statement can be found on his site.
Of course, most passer bys won’t recognize the significance or origin of these posters, but when one of Cirio’s posters and its inspiration are put side-by-side – as I’ve done in this post – the cleverness of his project is reveled.
Igor Bonifacic is a simple intern working for the Toronto Standard. You can follow him on twitter at @igorbonifacic.