The Google Trilogy 1: Report a Problem
The series of 100 digital photographs called Report a Problem, arranged into a video slide show, is the first part of Emilio Vavarella’s project, The Google Trilogy. It explores the relationship between humans, power and technological error. ‘Report a problem’ is a message that appears at the bottom of the Google Street View screen. Its aim is to allow users to report a problem during the viewing of the place they are virtually visiting, such as uncensored personal data, wrong colors or random noise appearances. The artist ‘traveled’ through Google Street View photographing all the ‘wrong’ landscapes he encountered before others could report the problems and prompt the company to adjust the images. Common landscapes are transformed here by Google’s unexpected technical errors into something new.
The Google Trilogy 2: Michele’s Story
Google Street View offers an immense public archive of panoptic images. It is a product of systematic work which mechanically records aspects of life while avoiding human contact with the subjects photographed. The artist started working with some of those photos with Michele, a man who, in 2007, became almost completely paralyzed and suffered memory damage as a result of an accident. The collection of 100 photographs produced as a result of this collaboration is composed of details taken from Google Street View. The project is attempt to precariously reconstruct a single human journey by recovering snippets of stolen and dehumanized life.
The Google Trilogy 3: The Driver and the Cameras
Each Google Street View car is equipped with a Dodeca 2360 camera with eleven lenses, capable of photographing at a 360 degree angle. Afterwards the photos are assembled, creating a stereoscopic view. An algorithm developed by Google automatically blurs people’s faces to protect the privacy of those accidentally portrayed. To create this series of photographs, the artist went looking for faces that had escaped Google Street View’s algorithm. The eleven portraits he had isolated immortalize the drivers of the Google car. The driver becomes here a sort of phantom power; he appears where he shouldn’t be and his presence escapes censorship. His face is the symbol of an error yet at the same time it shows a human side of the Google Street View project and perhaps also the limits of technological power.
Emilio Vavarella’s artistic practice focuses on political philosophy and contemporary technological power, with a particular emphasis on the aesthetics of error, subjectivity, mediated identity, biopolitics and social control. His work is informed by his studies of the history of conceptual art, digital and network culture, and new media practices. Through the use of photography and new media he aims to highlight the ambiguous spaces of power, such as unexpected errors and unpredictability. In 2013, Vavarella completed an MFA at Iuav University of Venice, with a thesis on Error and Metamorphosis in New Media Art. In 2013 he spent four months in Tel Aviv at Bezalel Academy of Arts’ studio residency program and four months at Bilgi University of Istanbul. In October 2013 he will be moving to New York City for a year-long internship at Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center.