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Exhibition review: Jon Rafman – The Nine Eyes of Google Street View

  Wednesday 25th July 2012

Google Street View documents our world with nine cameras strapped to a vehicle, snapping everywhere mapped without judgement. Wherever it goes there are people, or evidence of people, with their messy, hilarious and tragic ways. Automatically recording all areas, Street View has unintentionally captured human moments, and the results, edited from countless hours of footage, present a global portfolio of street life.

 In photography, so often the decisive moment depends on being in the right place at the right time. More than that, a photographer must learn to recognise particular anomalies and oddities that only really show up through a camera. Photography can create strange relationships between objects, pointing out the irregular nature of humans. Jon Rafman shows the skill of his photographer’s eye in choosing these moments that had been caught by default by Google Street View. Every one of these images will make you look twice, to get the joke, to witness the drama or recognise the humanity.

So often people are caught lying in the road – always alarming and inappropriate, we know there is a story there. Hookers, horses, kisses, hold-ups; Google Street View dispassionately records and Rafman trawls through footage taken since 2008 to find the moments of inspiration.

Two generous rooms at the Saatchi Gallery make this exhibition a worthwhile visit that will lead to pondering on the daily dramas of human life, the role of photography and about where the essential consciousness lies in art – with the automaton or with the authorship of the editor.

Verdict: ••••

Eleanor MacFarlane

Further information about Jon Rafman: The Nine Eyes of Google Street View can be found here.

Jon Rafman: The Nine Eyes of Google Street View is on at the Saatchi Gallery from 26th July to 29th August and 2nd October to 5th November 2012. Admission is free.

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