In Germany the introduction of Google Street View has provoked an interesting response. As in other countries there are many people not happy about it. Numerous complaints have been made concerning the internet giants’ invasion into the German peoples’ public space. Some, however, have seen it as an artistic opportunity. As reported in the Observer on 28th November (Birth on Google Street View) some very striking images have been appearing on the German streets.
On Hubertusallee in the Berlin suburb of Wilmersdorf a live birth can be witnessed. A woman in a purple dress lies on the pavement, her parted legs, knees up, angled away from the camera, a woman in black cradling her head while a man kneels in front of her holding a small baby aloft. Another man stands a little way off, his left arm raised, right hand to his ear speaking animatedly into a mobile phone. The image looks too clean and carefully composed to be real. The story informs us that no birth was ever reported on this street indicating that this is probably an elaborate piece of street theatre.
To me this looks like a new form of artistic intervention, the clever utilisation of a new tool to create memorable images and disseminate them to as wide an audience as possible. Apparently this is not an isolated incident. Many such scenes have been appearing all over Germany. This is another example of how the internet is changing the creative industries in ways which its designers could not possibly have foreseen. It is also an example of how artists (because I consider the anonymous culprits to be artists) continue to respond to new technologies in imaginative and unexpected ways in order to create new forms of expression and new forms of art.
This is one of those moments where, as one interested in issues of contemporary art, I can only look on in admiration at the intelligence and subversive wit of these performances and say humbly: I wish I had thought of that.