Digital dérive: the Streetview Cannonball Run

Paul Raven @ 08-06-2011

Via Nicolas Nova, here’s a sort of altermodernist-cum-Situationist take on the car-racing video game genre. Two dudes from Japan race across America by road without ever leaving Japan… or even their swivel chairs.

Apparently this is an entry in Google’s DemoSlam contest, and that’s about all I know. Nova’s highlighting of the game as a sort of digital dérive struck a chord… but rather than the “new and authentic” experience Guy Debord hoped the meatspace practice of dérive would create, this is perhaps a more Baudrillardian take on the idea. After all, sat in a darkened room in Japan, you have to trust in the authenticity of what Streetview is showing you… and even without wringing your hands over the possibility of Google massaging their mirror of reality for nefarious purposes, you can consider that Streetview consists of snapshots, a tunnel of temporal/spatial moments captured and stored somewhere in cyberspace. Which makes this dérive an act of time-travel, too… and given the way in which the Streetview images were captured, a linear journey in (virtual) space might actually result in you jumping between any number of different frozen temporal moments along the way…