Golan Levin and Collaborators

Flong Blog + News

Student project claims Google Streetview as an art medium

12 November 2008 / announcement, external, pedagogy

I’m proud and delighted to announce that Ben Kinsley, one of my MFA students at the CMU School of Art, has finally gone live with his first-of-a-kind project, “Street with a View” – in which he and collaborator Robin Hewlett choreographed a neighborhood-wide performance intervention into Google Street View. Here’s the AP article about the project, here’s their “making-of” video on YouTube, and here’s a quick quote from the Street with a View website:

“Street With A View introduces fiction, both subtle and spectacular, into the doppelganger world of Google Street View.

On May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way. Neighbors, and other participants from around the city, staged scenes ranging from a parade and a marathon, to a garage band practice, a seventeenth century sword fight, a heroic rescue and much more…

Street View technicians captured 360-degree photographs of the street with the scenes in action and integrated the images into the Street View mapping platform. This first-ever artistic intervention in Google Street View made its debut on the web in November of 2008.”

The CMU School of Art, where I teach, is committed to exploring two emerging areas of artmaking: (1) the intersection of arts and technology; and (2), so-called “contextual practice”, or “art-in-context”, in which our students are encouraged to look beyond the white box (gallery) and the black box (theater) to discover and create new audiences for their work in the outside world. Street with a View is a perfect example of a project that touches both areas, not just for the way that it claims Google’s mapping technology as a new artistic medium, but because of the new audiences that it creates: from the high-school marching band and RPG swordfighters which Ben and Robin convinced to participate in the tableaux, to the neighborhood spectators who wondered why scores of costumed people were flooding their back alley, to the people performing Google searches on the Internet who will accidentally stumble upon their intervention. Congrats Ben and Robin!

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