Monday, January 07, 2013

360° Street View Paintings

I am constantly amazed by the creative ways that developers use the Google Maps API. Almost every week I can come across Google Maps based applications that astound me with their inventiveness and then, once every blue moon, I come across a new application that is truly revolutionary.

The Metapanoramas Project is an amazing experiment that uses the Google Maps API to create 360° degree Street View paintings. It is a project which, in the words of the artist, "expands the two-dimensional limits of traditional painting".

The perceiver of the artwork is not limited to the initial view that appears in front of their eyes. The paintings can be explored as you would explore a Google Maps Street View. You can pan around 360° degrees, you can pan up and view the sky and you can pan down to view the ground.

The write up for the project ends intriguingly with the artist's thoughts about creating "a painted world which can be expanded in all directions". Using the Google Maps API it is possible to link custom Street Views so that users can navigate from one panorama to another. So hopefully the Maetapanoramas Project may one day evolve into a fully realised painted world that users can walk around and explore in Street View.

Since its introduction Google Maps Street View has been a constant source of inspiration to artists. It has inspired traditional landscape artists. Such as those who participate in the the Virtual Paintout Project, who use Street View as the source reference for new works of art.

It has inspired artists like Jon Rafman, whose 9-Eyes Project is dedicated to collecting and collating images found on Google Maps Street View.

It has also featured prominently in the, usually digital, artefacts curated by the New Aesthetic blog, which explores how the way we look at and see the world is increasingly influenced by how the world is viewed and read by technology.

The Metapanoramas Project however seems to me to be something different to these other art projects. This project is not so much concerned with how the Street View camera captures the world and then shapes our visual perceptions but with how the technology can be used to express an individual artist's own aesthetic.

Though using the technology of Street View the Metapanoramas Project has not merely created a new work of art but appears to have created a whole new medium for art. And, thanks to Malcolm McLuhan, we all know that the medium is the message.

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