California-based artist Doug Rickard does for Google Street View what the pause button does to video — he frames moments that previously existed only in passing.
Rickard explains his process of finding print-worthy images in Street View in a recent PBS NewsHour report narrated by KQED's Scott Shafer:
The sort of drive-by picture-taking is symbolic in a way of the anonymous, you know, nature of how these people live. Even the textures of the images, which is almost broken down in terms of the digital artifacts and the pixelation, it feels -- poetic I think is the right word.
Rickard is not the first to use Street View in this way. In July, The Observer highlighted the Street View work of Michael Wolf and Jon Rafman. Despite using the same source material, the work of these artists is markedly different. Where Rafman's feel sensational and Wolf's artistic, Rickard's feel completely down-to-earth. The Observer article notes, "It was William Eggleston who coined the phrase 'photographing democratically' but Rickard has used Google's indiscriminate omniscience to radically extend this enterprise – technologically, politically and aesthetically."
Use of such technology creates a distance between subject and photographer, but also provides unparalleled access to places. It also removes the dual considerations of framing and simultaneously capturing a moment — on Street View, the moments are already captured.
The NewsHour report, below.