Associate Researcher, Sylvia Grace Borda (’95), in partnership with Google Business Photographer, John M Lynch, have created ground-breaking net artworks using Google Street View.

Borda’s series entitled Farm Tableaux captures farmers in Surrey, B.C. enacting a routine activity, but unlike conventionally staged photographs, the observer can explore these framed compositions within an interactive Google Street View landscape. Borda tasked each of the Tableaux participants to stand motionless for periods of up to 20 minutes in order to be captured by the Google cameras. In this way, Borda has cleverly reversed engineered photographic practices in which the slow exposures of 19th century photography resulted in studio sitters being propped up for several minutes to allow a portrait image to be recorded. The artist has staged her subjects so they become 3-dimensional portrait sitters caught in a glance by the camera in multiple viewpoints in space and time. These choreographed scenes, incorporated into panoramas of farming landscapes using Google Street view, have fundamentally expanded the vocabulary and notion of public space.

Borda’s artwork becomes a distributed form of collectivity and a record of new visuality on the Internet. Farm Tableaux pushes the boundaries of what constitutes contemporary online art and photography whilst also defining social connectedness in the context of a highly visual and hybrid ‘commons’ of geography, time and the tableau vivant.

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