Android Art: The Accidental Selfies of Google Art Project


A Robot finds itself in the Entrance Hall of the White House. Bill Clinton presides.

Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself.

In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as the Museum Kampa in Prague, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the National Gallery in London all wanted parts of their collections captured with stunning clarity so all the world could see.

To make this happen, Google had to reconfigure the powers of their Street View cameras which normally sit perched above a fleet of Google-bannered cars. The Art Project team at Google developed an indoor-version of the 360-degree Street View camera and set it upon a trolley they could wheel through different exhibits and collections.

Since 2011, The Art Project has been a massive but quiet success. The collection now covers 151 museums from 40 different countries, but it might be one of Google’s biggest capture-the-world initiatives that is seldom seen by the public. And maybe that’s why it took someone like Spanish artist Mario Santamaría to find the Art Project’s private collection.

Museums are covered in mirrored surfaces and when the silver-clad androids spin their photographic heads they occasionally capture their own reflections. Santamaría’s collection “The Camera in the Mirror” documents these phantom photographers as they skulk about the most prized places in the world.

Eerie machines quietly watching everything.









Attribution

Quartz
Mario Santamaria


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