I am happy to present this new project, Street View film camera, as a work-in-progress pending more favorable photographic conditions in the springtime. Tests were carried out in warmer areas of the country recently, but Pittsburgh winters are not conducive to further explorations for reasons written below.
Many of the fantastical images curated from Street View for artistic consumption would be unremarkable if not for the legitimacy-lending presence of the navigational tools burned into the upper left hand corner and the blurring of faces. Ordinary snapshots taken by regular photographers can look more unusual if they choose to use low-grade film cameras or digital filters that emulate the look of such equipment. I think, if I can combine these contemporary ways of assuring the look of the "real," can the image be twice as legitimate?
Here's how it works:
1. 35mm film is pre-exposed with an image of the navigational tool seen in the corner of Google Street View screenshots (I drew it by sight with an image editing program.) This is accomplished by pointing a film SLR camera at an LCD computer monitor which is displaying the drawing, and exposing all 24 frames.
2. The 35mm film is loaded into a disposable 35mm film camera, and photos are taken with care to match the vernacular of the Street View portraiture aesthetic (stand in the middle of the street, hold the camera high above your head, and point the camera slightly down at your subject. Take the photo when the light is bright, the weather is warm and the foliage green.) A disposable camera is used because it is an inexpensive alternative to high priced lo-fi cameras currently available for sale, but it still has the lo-fi aesthetic. Photos are taken with the subject(s) wearing a semi-transparent plastic mask to emulate the facial blurring seen in actual Street View images.
Using the vernacular of lo-fi film photography and the I-can't-believe-street-view-caught-that wonderment of modern surveillance, the perceived tangibility of these modern tableaux must surely be twice as authentic. Experiments will also be taken with different watermarks and instant film cameras. (stock photo watermarks for "laughing alone with salad," etc.)
By combining both visual vernaculars into an uncanny monster, I hope to provoke greater criticism and examination of both ways of seeing and capturing images.
This project is not endorsed by Google, Inc. or Lomographic Society International. Street View is a copyrighted trademark of Google, Inc.