Italy/United States, 2012 | Emilio Vavarella
Project archive: emiliovavarella.com/archive/google-trilogy/report-a-problem/
Video slideshow: www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4VEvvxOJv4
Part of The Google Trilogy, Emilio Vavarella’s Report a Problem takes the small message to users — “report a problem” — at the lower right of the Google Street View screen as inspiration for a virtual journey around the world.
The project searches for evidence that the seamless interface excludes such as glitches, unresolved images, misaligned stitches, visual distortions, incorrect colors, compression artifacts, and evidence of other software malfunctions, before they could be reported to and corrected by Google.
In some cases, the street views that he photographs look like surrealist or expressionist paintings. In other cases, they evoke the unexpected beauty of net.art and glitch art.
Unlike net.art and glitch art, however, these images are “naturally” occurring in the sense that they do not involve datamoshing, databending, or circuit bending. Still other images capture what appear like light sculptures, unleashed in the middle of streets and neighborhoods, or geysers erupting into towers of confetti.
The photographs document ways that errors can produce new experiences rendered through image-stitching software that might not be useful solely in a pragmatic way. The project also documents ways that malfunctions within seamless interfaces have become so rare as to become valuable as experiences in themselves.
Emilio Vavarella is an artist and scholar whose practice focuses on political philosophy and contemporary technological power. Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Harvard University, he has exhibited at many of the most prestigious festivals of media arts, including ISEA, SIGGRAPH, EMAF, JMAF, and at prestigious institutions, including Eyebeam in New York, Museo Nacional Bellas Artes in Santiago, and the National Art Center of Tokyo. His work has been published in Artforum, Flash Art, Leonardo, Wired and Digital Culture, and elsewhere.