I was looking through Stephen Shore’s influential Uncommon Places and wondered how some of those locations look now. Since I don’t have the luxury of vagabonding across America to visit these places, I decided to view them via Google Maps’ street view instead.
Three notes about that:
1. Modern technology is amazing in that you can see a 3D representation of far away places, and see how much it has developed since the photographer took those photos.
2. Modern technology is the trashy B-movie rip-off of real life, real places, with real people. Uncommon Places is supposed to inspire you to explore this big, diverse and highly-fascinating country of ours. Stephen Shore did just that and was rewarded.
3. What’s the difference between the eye of an artist and the lens of a camera rigged on top of a Google Maps Driver’s car? Did they not both document a particular place during a particular time? One action was conscious and the other one was simply a frame taken during the course of a ride. Other than that, the end result was the same.
This is neither a criticism nor a snub of Stephen Shore’s masterpiece and craft. I appreciate his contributions, but these questions are worth investigating.
Will we become dependent on technology for simulated experiences? Will it dull our sense of wonder? Perhaps not now, since travel abroad is becoming more and more common due to affordable airfare and accommodations. But what if we’re seeing a preview of the future? What if photographers are replaced by drone documentarians and Google Street View?
How uncommon will these places really be?