|Matthew Jensen, The 49 States, 2008-9|
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 -- he has taken a collage of images from Google Street View and organized them alphabetically according to State. Seeing the image 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. These images 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?