Nine Eyes

Artist Jon Rafman's cleverly-edited Google Streetview images get a New Museum group show


Montreal-based artist Jon Rafman pores over thousands of Google Maps Streetview images, amassing the most intriguing assortment of real life literally captured on the road. Publishing a book in 2009, Rafman continues to explore how—like an admissible Peeping Tom—the Internet changes the public’s perception of personal space with his Tumblr blog Nine Eyes.


A selection of photos from Nine Eyes is currently on view in the “Free” exhibition at NYC’s New Museum. A group show, “Free” explores the expanded shared space and how artists are interpreting this. “Although the Google search engine may be seen as benevolent, Google Street Views present a universe observed by the detached gaze of an indifferent Being,” writes Rafman in an essay explaining his project. “Its cameras witness but do not act in history. For all Google cares, the world could be absent of moral dimension.”

The quality of the images captured by the roving fleet of Google’s vehicles vary in quality as do the reaction of the subjects captured. Some court the attention, others hide their faces. Google intentionally blurs the faces, but it’s a moot point—for our outdoor lives are on parade.

Free” is on view at the New Museum through 23 January 2011. See more images from Nine Eyes after the jump.