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…


Streetview, art and atemporality

Paul Raven @ 10-11-2010

I’m having a great morning for internet serendipity*, and I thought this particular synchronicitous pairing might float well here at Futurismic. First of all, Joanne “Tomorrow Museum” McNeil has an essay connected to the New Museum “Free” show that riffs on Google Streetview, daguerreotypes and atemporality:

Someday we will press a button to rewind and fast-forward through the history of Google Street View images. We will watch entire neighborhoods created, remade, destroyed, or left unchanged except in the subtlest ways. And in the course of it, we will find flashes of human experiences like the man standing with the shoeshiner in the Boulevard du Temple daguerreotype.

[…]

The future was once represented in fantastically romantic ways: white spacesuits, buildings infinite in height, interplanetary travel, alien interactions, an abundance of wealth, and robot servitude. Now the future is represented as something more compressed and accessible. The future is on the Internet, in those screens we glance at intermittently at all waking hours of the day. Our expectation is the “IRL” world will look not much unlike what we see today. It is a future of gradual changes, incorporating familiar aspects with new but not too crazy updated technology. What is in abundance is not wealth but information.

The idea of the future is now a distorted mirror. It is the future of screens. Like the daguerreotype, screens contain memory and reflection, as well as an unknown difference only discerning eyes can see. We are overfutured. We’ve reached the point where the past, present, and future look no different from one another.

The Eternal Electronically-Mediated Now; space and time mashed up into one seamless manipulable digital dimension.

And now see here [via BoingBoing]: Streetview-fed-through-Mapcrunch also helps corrode established visual stereotypes about what different countries look like. A sly rejoinder to those who claim that the web necessarily reinforces clichés: not so! It merely feeds them to those who wish to be fed. Novelty, difference, contrast… it’s all there for the finding for them as wants to look. Don’t like the time or place where you find yourself? Just Google yourself up a new reality; it’s all just raw data until we story it.

[ * A few days a friend on Twitter lamented having to choose between her love of beards and her love of cupcakes; and lo, the internet provideth. Does its pointlessness make it any less beautiful to the right person at the right moment? ]