31.1.13

Aesthetic Thursday: Matthew Jensen's "49 States"

Matthew Jensen, The 49 States, 2008-9
Google Streetview in Art
I am addicted to Google Street View. I am going to Philadelphia this weekend and I have already seen on Street View what the hotel will look like, what the front of a restaurant I want to have lunch at looks like  all as if I will have already "done" the trip before I even go. Someone else has already been there. Someone has already snapped a photograph. There is nothing new under the sun. But I like what Matthew Jensen has done in the Metropolitan Museum of Art display of his work  he has taken a collage of images from Google Street View and organized them alphabetically according to State (e.g., the fifty states of the United States).

Jensen's Work at the Met Reminds Me of the Iconic American Road Trip
Seeing Jensen's work at the Met, as part of an exhibit on contemporary photography, I think of travel, the association Americans have with the road trip and snapping pictures. What is a road trip without a camera? Now that we have Google to take our snapshots for us maybe the camera is dead on the road. *sad face*. The images Jensen has collected are absent individuals but it seems easy enough to insert a human being into each State's slot. Look, there is me in New York. There is me in Connecticut. I look at my home state of Louisiana and compare it to Wisconsin. They both seem the same  and taken as a whole the image captures a unity of sorts, the kind of unity I get when traveling on the interstate where every exit is the same as the ones that came before it and all the ones ahead will look the same and so on. Is this a new American flag? Maybe so.

Stray Observations:

  • Why are there only forty-nine states in Jensen's collage? I did not have time to figure out what state is missing.
  • Did Google allow Jensen to use their images?
  • I feel like Jensen's work would be better if every picture in the series included a person whose face is blurred out.
  • I want this piece to hang in a doctor's office.

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