Julien Levesque, “Street Views Patchwork” 2009.

Every so often I come across a really exciting piece, a work that uses a medium in an innovative and exciting way, that conceptually leaves us thinking for days after our first viewing. Julien Levesque’s “Street Views Patchwork” (2009), an interactive digital collage, is one of those pieces.

Stacking four horizontal images to create a new one is nothing new, collage has been around since at least Dadaism, but Levesque has kept the original functions of Street View embedded in the website. One could passively look at the collages and enjoy their aesthetic sensibility, their surreal nature, and wonder about the implications of Google mapping the entire world, and that would be an enjoyable experience. But this is a work that exists online, this is a web 2.0 version of collage, allowing one to zoom in, move around the images, and create entirely new landscapes of their own.

Periodically refreshing itself to run through all of the 12 collages, “Street Views Patchwork” is a truly digital space that definitely is worth exploring. I wonder how Google Maps/Earth/Street View has changed how we experience landscape. This is a relevant question to art history which has long been riddled with landscapes, but more importantly relevant to our daily commutes, urban sprawl, vacation, and more. We can now navigate more information than ever before from our computer, the internet has been collapsing information and landscape alike making both more accessible. Just as mapping the earth so thoroughly has changed how we navigate it, putting information and artwork online must also have an impact. Levesque’s “Street Views Patchwork” is a piece that is doing just that.

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Ben Valentine

Ben Valentine is an independent writer living in Cambodia. Ben has written and spoken on art and culture for SXSW, Salon, SFAQ, the Los Angeles Review of Books, YBCA, ACLU, de Young Museum, and the Museum...