Photos: M1 [Google Glitch Re-Photographed]
by Beauchamp Art
In these photos I used a combination of techniques to generate distorted representations of the banal non-place of the M1 motorway a notoriously dull expanse occasionally referred to as ‘200 miles of congestion’, in which transport vehicles become static boxes. The particular stretch of the road used for these images was just outside of Milton Keynes, the ‘New City’, built around the 60s to relieve the population growth in London.
Though lacking an explicit memory of the road, I have undoubtedly passed through it at some point in time, as it is a necessary route from much of the North to the South of England. However, I have no experience of Milton Keynes, besides its depiction on television, it’s name on a map, and encounters with its inhabitants; though my knowledge of the location and its populous is influenced by the popular police reality programs, such as ‘Police Camera Action’, ‘Traffic Cops’ and so forth. Which has undoubtedly produced a negative reflection of the place, from a street view. Much as the Google Street View depiction of the M1 does nothing to benefit its reputation as the epitome of monotony. I selected this particular section of road because for the most part it is without notable or identifiable material; it is anonymous, and could theoretically be any motorway in Britain (or most of Northern Europe), it is placeless in its monotony.
From this choice of location, I decided to create a corrupted version of the landscape on Google Street View. This was accomplished by clicking down long stretches of the road and whilst the image was loading from one location to the next, a screen capture was taken, thereby showing the road in digital transit, giving the static image back its dynamism, the buffering of the pictures simulating the motion blur of objects passing by the windows of a car in motion.
I then selected the most compositionally successful images from this series, and photographed sections of them from the screen, abstracting the landscape into a wall of pixels, fragmenting the images to reveal their medium through magnification. After editing this second wave of images as RAW files, bringing out their innate tonal quality, I then photographed them again displayed at a low-resolution (small scale) on the screen, furthering the pixilation, and in most of the images causing the moiré effect to become more obvious, setting the optical illusion of this effect against the illusion of reality offered by the (digital) photograph, reflecting its disconnect from the physical place. The banality of the place thereby responds to the banal overload of the Internet as an expanding archive of images, and Google topologically geographical means of organising them to give a sense of structure to mirror the interactions with physical spaces to create a seemingly transparent interface for the user, subverting the remediation of the image. Google Street View, that follows the logic of panoramic photograph or perspective landscape painting, and the interactivity of the interplay offered by interacting with a three-dimensional sculptural form, whilst mimicking the layout and purpose of a map in order to share the semiotics of the format to allow it to be use thus. The map, in tern, remediates the architectural plan, and the real anthropologically interpreted geology of the landscape it is depicting.
The reprocessing of the glitched image could thereby be seen as a continuation of this process of remediation, whilst simultaneously acknowledging its banal artifice, and it function as a ubiquitous simulation of reality. More totally than isolate images, Street View offers a gigantic framework that emulates the near-pedestrian transgressing of landscape, replicating the perspective of the driver; potentially showing the entire world, as accessible by car. Although at this point in time, Street View is still incredibly Euro-centric, even North America is scarcely plotted as compared to the streets of England, France, or Germany. When one ventures further from these Westernised locations, the world again descends into the coded obscurity of the abstract graphical map.
Though there as still some exceptions, hubs of particularly technologically/capitally rich activity, such as urban Japan, and the Southern Coast of Australia, and other major 1st World cities. The geography and street-based topology of LED nations are still grossly underrepresented in this format; disproportionally to population density/potential user base (or Bangladesh, with one of the densely populated landmass, would be better illustrated; however, with limited access to the media which they would be represented in, and more pressing techno-political concerns than an advanced online map, the demand for Google Street View is proportional to the relative wealth and GDP, and in this circumstance, inversely proportional to the population/potential user density.
The images warp and ripple with a false sense of movement, and show a small amount of the rolling-shutter effect, twisting static objects, elongating the accompanying vehicles and parallel objects; before plunging them into the remediated world of magnified pixilation and a repeated rexamination of the moiré effect, which poetically symbolises optical limitations and the digital, visual overload, and demonstrating the shortcomings of screen-based representations.