Panoramic shots of Thailand prostitutes, mountainous Iceland landscapes, suburban kids bearing guns, and secluded waterfalls surrounded by lush wildlife.
These are some of the images one can find through Google Maps’ Street View feature. While many use the tool to visualize local routes and find restaurants, Canadian artist Jon Rafman hunts for present-day surrealism around the world. On Rafman’s Tumblr blog 9-Eyes, Street View screenshots show moments captured in time that depict the unique, breathtaking, amusing and shocking.
Rafman, who is based in Montreal, trawls throughout the vast nothingness in Street View to find the rare, but remarkable, scenes worth documenting. “9-eyes” is named after Street View’s electric automobiles, which originally bore nine cameras on a single pole. The current technology has upgraded to 15 lenses to capture 360-degree panoramic views.
“Never before in history has anyone, or any company, attempted to photograph the entire world from a street-level perspective,” said Rafman in an interview with The New York Times. “I saw myself as a sort of virtual explorer, exploring these new vast virtual landscapes.”
Rafman screenshots the occasional glitch the Street View cars let slip by, such as this Sims-like image of a man with his “glitch in the matrix” copy.
Some of the photos are so beautiful that it’s hard to believe they’re not taken by a professional. In each image, the zooming tools in the upper-left corner remain. Sometimes the navigation arrows are screenshotted, as well as the “Report a problem” text at the bottom.
Unfortunately, Rafman does not provide the locations and coordinates for each image he finds, leaving those who want to follow his virtual trail in the dark. But with Google Maps’ constant updates, it’s unlikely you would stumble across the exact same scene Rafman captured anyway, with some being years-old from when Rafman started the project in 2009.
And it’s not all glamour. The cars have captured weird and disturbing shots, too, and Rafman has found them.
The blog also has an accompanying book, The Nine Eyes of Google Street View, which contains 160 pages of more findings. Next time you have time to kill, try having your own adventure around the world through the comfort of your home.