A little over five years ago I stumbled across this distorted Street View photo from in front of the Mauritshuis in The Hague, and then discovered the same guy kept popping up in all the nearby Street View shots, too. Eventually I realized he was walking alongside the Google Trike on its maiden European voyage through the Binnenhof, the seat of the Dutch Parliament.
Sometimes only the top of his head would appear; in other panos, he’d appear in fragments; and in a few, a cobblestone lozenge would wipe him out completely. I called him “walking man,” after the sculptures where Alberto Giacometti sought to capture that instant where a person comes into view.
At first I thought he was a tourist who’d happened upon the Google Trike and decided to follow it around, but several months later, and after other Google Trike images came online, I realized he was part of the mapping team. But the interesting tension between his persistent assertion of his presence and Google’s algorithmic attempts to erase him did not require coincidence. By now we realize people are anomalies in the Street View datascape, whose appearance only diminishes the maps’ utility. This was only becoming clear in 2009-10, though, when Google expanded its photomapping to Europe.
Anyway, I made a photobook of walking man’s every appearance in the Binnenhof, but the book was never published, and remained trapped inside blurb’s production software. While others trawled GSV for Cartier-Bressons, Crewdsons and Franks, I kept collecting these distorted self-portraits of the Google Grips, which blurred [sic] into [Google’s] Google Art Project. But this first one is really the best. Plus, most of the panos have disappeared from Google itself. So I am releasing it into the wild as a pdf. I was briefly tempted to update the introduction, but I figure it’s better as a souvenir of the time, and what GSV looked and seemed like way back in 2010.
walking man — a self-portrait with Google Street View [10mb pdf via dropbox]
Previously: Walking Man, the photobook [apr 2010]
Google Street View Trike has a posse [apr 2010]
Oh right, Google started deleting walking man‘s panos after I posted about them [june 2010]
co-opting GSV as a self-portrait medium percolated from this Binnenhof photoset [feb 2011]
and got surpassed/swamped by the introduction of Google Art Project [feb 2011]
Oh right, here’s the intro text from the then-still-unreleased book [feb 2011]
They’re adapting: Man With A Pano Camera [june 2013]