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Street With A View

From the project’s website

Street With A View introduces fiction, both subtle and spectacular, into the doppelganger world of Google Street View.


On May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way. Neighbors and other participants from around the city staged scenes ranging from a parade and a marathon, to a garage band practice, a seventeenth century sword fight, a heroic rescue and much more…

Street View technicians captured 360-degree photographs of the street with the scenes in action and integrated the images into the Street View mapping platform. This first-ever artistic intervention in Google Street View made its debut on the web in November of 2008.

An incredible cast of real-life characters contributed their time, energy and talents to creating pseudo-street life on Sampsonia Way. Please check out the scene breakdown,  the participant page and the video documentation to learn more about the artists, groups and participants that made Street With A View possible.

Blurring reality and fiction

In a grand attempt to blur the lines between reality and fiction the two artists gathered a large group of other artists and willing contributers from the local community to ‘rig’ the Street View car sent by Google to record the streets as they are. This is the only known artistic large scale intervention in Google Street View. Assembling various disciplines of art and other community services as well as clubs, Street With A View includes many different scenes, to which a guide is linked above, including but not limited to a marching band, confetti throwers, a tableau vivant of people moving house, a fictive marathon, a medieval sword fight, an appearance by the local butcher and many more things. Extending works like the Aspen Movie Map, which was a project intended to virtually recreate reality, Street With A View projects that which is fictional, yet obviously exists in our reality (as we thought of it) into the virtual space.

It also challenges the perspectives on surveillance, by showing a heightened awareness of the fact that life is being recorded, whether this is liked or not, and making use of this fact; injecting it with artistic value.

Street With A View: Marching Band

The work also explores cinematic values, as the staged and the spontaneous leak into eachother, within the artwork manifesting as local youth and passerbys walking into the directed scenes and the ‘actors’ of the scenes interacting with them in turn. In a certain sense, this is a form of ‘expanded cinema’, which challenges what is real and what is directed, how static images are given narrative, even though the framerate is only as high as the speed with which the viewer clicks through the street in which the scenes play and to where the spectator looks while clicking on. It is, nevertheless, the user which controls the speed of the images and the window and thus the viewpoint. In this sense “the technologies of virtual environments point to cinema that is an immersive narrative space, wherein the interactive viewer assume the role of both cameraperson and editor.” (Shaw 2002, p. 263)

Links & References

Jeffery Shaw. Movies After Film – The Digitally Expanded Cinema, 2002. In:
Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London:

Phaidon, 2009, p. 263.

Street With A View Homepage

Direct Link to Google Street View