Harbor View Elementary School. Digital intervention by Myriam B. Mahiques
I´m one of those who are tempted to use Google Earth, Google street view, Google maps, for my publications on urban morphology, and sometimes for digital art and exercises of urban forms and colors.
It seems that the tools in Google Street View has also generated a new type of photographers, and I´m not saying ¨American,¨ because I´ve read that similar techniques are used in Canada, for example.
Let´s see the work of Doug Rickard, pictures and text from the article by John Foster:
New Orleans by Doug Rickard, 2008/9
Detroit by Doug Rickard, 2009/10
¨Rickard, an artist as a child (his teachers would exclaim to his parents that he would surely “do something special” with his artistic talent), discovered photography in adulthood — a discovery that would become an obsession. He began to codify this obsession in early 2008, when he created the now highly popular websites American Suburb X and These Americans. These sites, largely extensions of his personal journey, obsessions and self-education, are now highly regarded by photography aficionados, educators and historians for their high quality of writing and massive visual archives. ASX receives approximately 80,000 unique visitors a month and is “Liked” by 38,000 Facebook “fans.”
These Americans is known in part for being a view into Rickard’s personal found-image archive. With such a strong interest in history, Rickard was used to looking at the past. But for these new web projects he turned his attention to the present, exploring the statistics, demographics and socio-economics of contemporary America’s neglected communities. While doing this he began to experiment with ordinary and static images resulting from keyword searches on Google.
But by the next year — in mid-2009 — he discovered Google Street View. In a telephone interview that lasted well over an hour, the 43-year-old-old Rickard told me that the idea for his recent photographic work emerged as a sort of “epiphany” within 24 hours of using Street View. The project was, he explained, the result of a sort of “perfect storm,” in that it combined his love of photography and its history with his background in American history and sociology. Also, practicality was a component in the form of his inability to travel America, a restriction of the scenarios in real life — a demanding day job and a young family. According to Rickard, this epiphany fused immediately into a crystal-clear idea: He would use Street View as his camera and, working from a room in his home, travel the roads of neglected American cities and neighborhoods in a 21st-century “road trip.” This single idea would utterly consume his life for close to two years, resulting in the important body of work “A New American Picture,” a selection of which hangs today in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.¨