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Google's Inside-Business Photos Sure Are Getting Surreal

Yes, that is a body being sucked down a toilet, and it only gets weirder.

Ah, Google Business Photos: The perfect place to display your wares, showcase the smiles of your staff and freak out potential customers with a human body being eaten by a toilet.

That last photo, recently spotted by Google Street View World, is part of the virtual tour of Manchester creative agency Ideas By Music. Ideas is just one of the 100,000-plus establishments that have paid Google to feature their building's interiors on Street View – but unlike most of these folks trying to pleasantly present their business, the Manchester guys have created a difficult, unsettling experience for viewers. Did I mention the blood in the bathroom?

A glance around the Web reveals that several companies are using Google's service to beat the decaying corpus of Surrealism. Obviously many of these places are marketing and creative firms, whose success is tied with creating shocking or funny spectacles. (The Ideas By Music tableaux is a collection of movie references, for instance – see Dan Root's comment below.) Less clear is why a sports shop would stage a raunchy canoodling in its dressing room, and why a man in Spain is pretending to be a lamp.

Here's a quick roundup of the sillier interiors, beginning with the hockey fracas at Nmédia Solutions, an Internet-ad agency in the Canadian city of Dummondville. The full tour includes a gunfight and classic arcade-game figures, like the Pac-Man visible in back right:

Warning: A furry has escaped from his computer room. Do not go outdoors. Report all strange animal sounds to the police. Thanks goes to Google Maps Mania for highlighting this shot inside Brooklyn's ACME Studio:

Briançon is a commune high up in the mountains of southern France. The owners of local ski shop Krakatoa decided to riff on the region's extreme-sports fans. I guess that some people could argue what's happening in the third photo is a kind of "sport," too:

In Spain, a lone fashion victim rocks a daring new genre of headwear:

To be fair to tech personality Leo Laporte, his studio in Petaluma, California, probably always has a robot manning the reception desk:

Where's Waldo? Here he is! The carefully orchestrated mayhem inside Montreal's Adviso ad agency must've taken hours to photograph. The line from quirky to creepy gets crossed by a sausage-man leashed to a wiener dog, which looks like something that should levitate down a dim hallway in The Shining:

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.