Artist Pasting Google Street View Photos of People Back Into the Real World

Google’s Street View imagery features plenty of photographs of people, but they’re often distorted and almost always feature blurred faces. Street Ghosts is a project by artist Paolo Cirio that reintroduces these distinctive portraits back into the real world. After choosing a particular photo containing a person in Street View, Cirio prints it out as a life-sized print on thin paper, cuts out the person, and then uses wheat-paste to affix the giant person photo onto the exact location where the photo appeared in the virtual world.

For each of the photographs shown here, the image on the left shows what the real life location looks like with Cirio’s pasted photo, while the image on the right shows the Google Street View image that was used.

Cirio has put up these images in New York City, Berlin, and London. You can follow the project on the official website, which includes a map showing where these “ghosts” can be found.

In his artist statement for the project, Cirio writes,

In this project, I exposed the specters of Google’s eternal realm of private, misappropriated data: the bodies of people captured by Google’s Street View cameras, whose ghostly, virtual presence I marked in Street Art fashion at the precise spot in the real world where they were photographed.

Street Ghosts hit some of the most important international Street Art “halls of fame” with low-resolution, human scale posters of people taken from Google Street View. These images do not offer details, but the blurred colors and lines on the posters give a gauzy, spectral aspect to the human figures, unveiling their presence like a digital shadow haunting the real world.

This ready-made artwork simply takes the information amassed by Google as material to be used for art, despite its copyrighted status and private source. As the publicly accessible pictures are of individuals taken without their permission, I reversed the act: I took the pictures of individuals without Google’s permission and posted them on public walls. In doing so, I highlight the viability of this sort of medium as an artistic material ready to comment and shake our society.

What would your reaction be if, while walking on the sidewalk, you suddenly noticed a giant ghost-like version of yourself plastered on a wall?

(via The Creators Project)

  • JW

    I absolutely love this! I find Street View an enormous resource in my own street and cityscape photography pursuits and love seeing others feel inspired by it in such creative ways as this one. In so many areas Google changes how we see the world, and without getting too deep, this project is a keen reflection on that influence. I can see where Paolo is going with the eff the system and google approach, but to me I most appreciate the life-imitating-google implications of the project. Kudos to him.

  • Daf

    Much better than other Google Streetview “Artists” I’ve seen.

  • Ano

    I dub this project: “The Next Stalker Idea”

  • Alan Dove

    This is incredibly dangerous. If any of these people happens to stand in front of their poster, and then the Google Street View car drives by again, our entire universe will collapse into an infinite regression.

  • MikeB

    I take issue with the artist statement, ”
    In this project, I exposed the specters of Google’s eternal realm of private, misappropriated data: the bodies of people captured by Google’s Street View cameras…”

    If taking pictures of people in public is “private, misappropriated data” what does that make street photography exhibitions?

  • heenan73

    So if Google is so wrong, what about all the other people who take photos in public places, and include random strangers …. I suppose he’d have them shot, the paranoid idiot!