The example I ended up with this week looks at instances of digital images being unintentionally distorted in Google Maps. There are some pretty bizarre examples that can be viewed when looking at certain locations, which a digital artist named Kyle F. Williams has captured collectively after scouring Google Maps. I have included a couple of examples below (Figure 1 & 2), but if you want to see a bit more you can check out this article. They are sometimes comical, but mostly just strange, and definitely worth having a look at or trying to find your own. I believe this is a suitable example because it shows the contents of Google Maps having been, quite literally, disrupted (or perhaps disembodied is the more appropriate term) by the technology being used to capture it.
Fig. 1 & Fig. 2 Source: Doug Bolton/ Kyle F. Williams/Google Maps, (The Independent, 2016)
This happens because of errors in the stitching of the panoramas taken by the Google Street View technology, making the end result at odds with Google’s goal of creating a seamless panorama that can situate the viewer within a locale in a life-like way. It is also an interesting example because it only reflects one layer of the containers involved in Google maps, which is at the level of production and capturing of the photos, rather than a glitch within the software itself. However this still has real repercussions since Google’s photography in this circumstance is intended to be a faithful vehicle of representation.
In A Deep History of Electronic Textuality, Whitney Anne Trettien remarks on the pros and cons of reproduction in photography in relation to print when she notes that, “even as photography helped far-flung bibliographers collaborate on collating versions, it also threatened to disrupt the field with forgeries and even devalue the work of bibliography itself” (para.4). This only serves to highlight the fact that the difference between intention and result can be vast when seeking to represent something as a digital image. Ultimately these are inaccuracies that interrupt the experience the user is meant to have, and these images from Google Maps demonstrate that the experience is especially jarring when the object being represented is supposed to be reality.
Bolton, Doug. “Artist Captures Bizarre Distorted Images on Google Maps.” The Independent, 18 Feb. 2016. <http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/google-maps-photo-spheres-kyle-f-williams-keelayjams-a6881396.html>.
Trettien, Whitney Anne. “A Deep History of Electronic Textuality: The Case of Eng/ish Reprints Jhon Milton Areopagitica.” Digital Humanities Quarterly. Volume 7 Number 1, 2013. <http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/7/1/000150/000150.html#shillingsburg1996b>.