"My choice of Street View both celebrates Google's technologies and critiques the culture and consciousness it reflects. Initially I was attracted by the noisy amateur aesthetic of the raw images as Google Street Views evoked for me an urgency present in earlier street photography. With its apparent neutral gaze, the Street View photography had a spontaneous quality unspoiled by the sensitivities or agendas of a human photographer. At first, it was tempting to see the images as a neutral privileged representation of reality, as though the Street Views, wrenched from any social context other than geospatial contiguity, were able to perform true docu-photography, capturing fragments of reality stripped of all cultural intentions. The artist's joy in exploring these virtual worlds led inexorably to a critique of the real world implied by such creations. Inevitably, the historical role of the artist emerged. The study of the virtual worlds of modern life revealed these virtual worlds to be roundabout ways of expressing the varieties of alienation in contemporary life."
"I am constantly searching for artistic tools and methods that best represent or reveal modern experience. The underlying philosophical themes that guide my search include the impact of technology on our consciousness, the capturing of the moral dimension in an ambiguous world, contemporary alienation expressed often through the tension between the ideal and the real, the romantic and the ironic, the pathetic and melancholic, and the conflict between past, present and future. It is critical to reframe technological presentations and to include the human gaze."
Jon Rafman is an artist, filmmaker, and essayist. Mixing irony, melancholy and humour, his work engages directly with contemporary experience while exploring the impact of technology on our consciousness. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Literature from McGill University and a M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His films and new media work have gained international attention and have been exhibited at Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, and the New Museum in New York City. Rafman’s Nine Eyes of Google Street View has been featured in Modern Painter, Frieze, Guardian, Libération, New York Times, and Harper's Magazine.