abstractviewIn the late summer of 2009 Polak and van Bekkum were working on a GPS piece in a remote area in the Highlands of Scotland.
They were collecting GPS data from helium balloons, that they let flap in the wind. They planned to visualize the GPS data in Google Earth. At that very moment and seemingly out of nowhere the Google Earth Street View car emerged and passed by silently. Three weeks later the artists found themselves and their balloons depicted on Google Streetview.

As a gesture to reclaim the image, the artist hacked the Google Streetview spheres: they fragmented the image, freed the spheres from their original location and forced them to float over both the landscape and loch as if they again were filled with digital helium.

Project website



Artistic motivation
Our unplanned appearance in StreetView gave us the opportunity to get to know the privacy issues around digital cartography first hand and from the inside out. We felt a strong urge to reclaim the image, to be able to own it again. This was the main motivation to start the hacking experiments. Only after some days of working we opened our eyes for the aesthetics of the results and we made joyful connections to other artists work (with spheres) that we admire, like Odilon Redon, René Magritte, Lucio Fontana or Tomas Saraceno.

Practical information
Year of production 2010. The work consists of 12 stills (C-print mounted on aluminium 30×18 cm) showing the hacking process, frozen in action.